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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF

THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020

 

Commission file number 001-37581

ACLARIS THERAPEUTICS, INC.

Incorporated under the Laws of the

 

I.R.S. Employer Identification No.

State of Delaware

46-0571712

640 Lee Road, Suite 200

Wayne, PA 19087

(484) 324-7933

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of Each Class:

Trading Symbol(s)

 

Name of Each Exchange on which Registered

Common Stock, $0.00001 par value

ACRS

 

The Nasdaq Stock Market, LLC

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Yes       No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes      No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes      No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or emerging growth company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer”, “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

Large accelerated filer 

 

Accelerated filer 

 

Non-accelerated filer 

 

Smaller reporting company 

Emerging growth company

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes     No 

As of June 30, 2020, the last business day of the registrant’s last completed second quarter, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $65.5 million based on the closing price of the registrant’s common stock, as reported by the Nasdaq Global Select Market, on such date.

As of January 31, 2021, 51,804,258 shares of common stock, $0.00001 par value, were outstanding.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the Company's definitive proxy statement, to be filed pursuant to Regulation 14A under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, for its 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K.

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SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K, or this Annual Report, contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. The forward-looking statements are contained principally in Part I, Item 1. “Business,” Part I, Item 1A. “Risk Factors,” and Part II, Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” but are also contained elsewhere in this Annual Report. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the words “may,” “might,” “can,” “will,” “to be,” “could,” “would,” “should,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “objective,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “project,” “potential,” “likely,” “continue” and “ongoing,” or the negative of these terms, or other comparable terminology intended to identify statements about the future. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from the information expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Although we believe that we have a reasonable basis for each forward-looking statement contained in this Annual Report, we caution you that these statements are based on a combination of facts and factors currently known by us and our expectations of the future, about which we cannot be certain. Forward-looking statements include statements about:

our plans to develop our drug candidates;
the timing of our planned clinical trials of our drug candidates and the reporting of the results from these trials;
the clinical utility of our drug candidates;
our plans and expectations related to manufacturing capabilities and strategy;
our expectations regarding coverage and reimbursement of our drug candidates, if approved;
the timing of our regulatory filings and approvals for our drug candidates;
our intellectual property position;
our plans to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates, and earn revenue from such arrangements;
our expectations regarding competition;
our expectations regarding our continued reliance on third parties;
the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business;
our expectations regarding our use of capital; and
our estimates regarding future revenue, expenses and needs for additional financing.

You should refer to Part I, Item 1A. “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report for a discussion of important factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements. As a result of these factors, we cannot assure you that the forward-looking statements in this Annual Report will prove to be accurate, and you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Furthermore, if our forward-looking statements prove to be inaccurate, the inaccuracy may be material. In light of the significant uncertainties in these forward-looking statements, you should not regard these statements as a representation or warranty by us or any other person that we will achieve our objectives and plans in any specified time frame, or at all. The forward-looking statements in this Annual Report represent our views as of the date of this Annual Report. We anticipate that subsequent events and developments may cause our views to change. However, while we may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law. You should, therefore, not rely on these forward-looking statements as representing our views as of any date subsequent to the date of this Annual Report.

All brand names or trademarks appearing in this Annual Report, including KINect, ESKATA and RHOFADE are the property of their respective owners. Unless the context requires otherwise, references in this report to “Aclaris,” the “Company,” “we,” “us,” and “our” refer to Aclaris Therapeutics, Inc. and its subsidiaries.

2

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

PART I

Item 1. Business

4

Item 1A. Risk Factors

20

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

56

Item 2. Properties

56

Item 3. Legal Matters

56

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures

57

PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

58

Item 6. Selected Consolidated Financial Data

58

Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

59

Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosure About Market Risk

80

Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

81

Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

114

Item 9A. Controls and Procedures

114

Item 9B. Other Information

114

PART III

Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

115

Item 11. Executive Compensation

115

Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

115

Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

115

Item 14. Principal Accountant Fees and Services

115

PART IV

Item 15. Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

116

Item 16. Form 10-K Summary

118

Signatures

119

3

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PART I

Item 1. Business

Overview

We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing novel drug candidates for immuno-inflammatory diseases.  In addition to developing our novel drug candidates, we are pursuing strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our novel drug candidates.

Our Drug Candidates Currently in Development

Our pipeline of drug candidates that we are currently developing is summarized in the table below. These investigational drugs were developed internally utilizing our proprietary KINect drug discovery platform.

Drug Candidate / Program

Target

Route of Administration

Indication

Development Phase

Immuno-Inflammatory Diseases

ATI-450

MK2 inhibitor

oral

rheumatoid arthritis

(moderate to severe)

Phase 2

additional immuno-inflammatory diseases

Phase 2*

COVID-19**

Phase 2

ATI-1777

“soft” JAK 1/3 inhibitor

topical

atopic dermatitis

(moderate to severe)

Phase 2

ATI-2138

ITK/TXK/JAK3 inhibitor

oral

psoriasis

Pre-IND

inflammatory bowel disease

Undisclosed- Gut Restricted Program

JAK1/JAK3 inhibitor

oral

inflammatory bowel disease

Discovery

Undisclosed- Gut Restricted Program

ITK/TXK/JAK3 inhibitor

oral

inflammatory bowel disease

Discovery

* We are currently evaluating additional potential immuno-inflammatory indications which we expect to progress directly into Phase 2.
** This is an investigator-initiated trial sponsored by the University of Kansas Medical Center.

MK2 Inhibitors, JAK Inhibitors and ITK Inhibitors as Potential Treatments for Immuno-Inflammatory Diseases

In 2017, we acquired Confluence Life Sciences, Inc. (now known as Aclaris Life Sciences, Inc.), or Confluence.  The acquisition of Confluence added small molecule drug discovery and preclinical development capabilities, including KINect, a proprietary drug discovery platform. This allowed us to bring early-stage research and development activities in-house that we previously outsourced to third parties. We intend to leverage these capabilities and KINect to identify potential drug candidates that we may develop independently or in collaboration with third parties. As part of the Confluence acquisition we also acquired our investigational drug candidates, ATI-450, an inhibitor of the mitogen-activated protein kinase-activated protein kinase 2, or MK2, signaling pathway, and ATI-1777, a topical “soft” Janus kinase, or JAK, inhibitor, as well as several other preclinical drug candidates including inhibitors of interleukin-2-

4

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inducible T cell kinase, or ITK. We also earn revenue from Confluence’s provision of contract research services to third parties. 

ATI-450, an Investigational Oral MK2 Inhibitor

We submitted an Investigational New Drug Application, or IND, in April 2019 for ATI-450, an investigational oral, novel, small molecule selective MK2 inhibitor compound, for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, which was allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, in May 2019.  MK2 is a key regulator of pro-inflammatory mediators including TNFα, IL1β, IL6, IL8 and other essential pathogenic signals in chronic immuno-inflammatory diseases, as well as in oncology.  As an oral drug candidate, we are developing ATI-450 as a potential alternative to injectable anti-TNF/IL1/IL6 biologics and JAK inhibitors for treating certain immuno-inflammatory diseases.

We initiated a Phase 1 single (at 10mg, 30mg, 50mg and 100mg doses) and multiple ascending (at 10mg, 30mg and 50mg doses) dose clinical trial evaluating ATI-450 in 77 healthy subjects in August 2019 (ATI-450-PKPD-101). Final data from this trial demonstrated that ATI-450 resulted in marked inhibition of TNFα, IL1β, IL8 and IL6. We also observed that ATI-450 had dose-proportional pharmacokinetics with a terminal half-life of 9-12 hours in the multiple ascending dose cohort, and had no meaningful food effect or drug-drug interaction with methotrexate.  ATI-450 was generally well-tolerated at all doses tested in the trial.  The most common adverse events (reported by 2 or more subjects who received ATI-450) were dizziness, headache, upper respiratory tract infection, constipation, abdominal pain and nausea. 

ATI-450 was also evaluated at 80mg and 120mg doses twice daily in a second Phase 1 clinical trial in healthy subjects (ATI-450-PKPD-102). Preliminary topline data from this trial showed that no dose-limiting toxicity was observed. Ex vivo analysis of blood samples from this Phase 1 trial also showed that increased cytokine inhibition was achieved with these higher doses of ATI-450. No serious adverse events were reported and all adverse events were mild to moderate. The most common adverse events (reported by 2 or more subjects who received ATI-450) were headache, dizziness, nausea, parasthesia and, in the post-dosing safety follow-up phase of the trial, dry skin. These adverse events were all mild in severity. A final analysis of this trial is underway.

Moderate to Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis

Following the completion of the first Phase 1 clinical trial, in March 2020 we initiated a 12-week, Phase 2a, multicenter, randomized, investigator and patient-blind, sponsor-unblinded, parallel group, placebo-controlled clinical trial to investigate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of ATI-450 in subjects with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (ATI-450-RA-201). In the trial, 19 subjects were randomized in a 3:1 ratio (seventeen subjects [15 in the treatment arm and two in the placebo arm] completed treatment) and received either ATI-450 at 50 mg twice daily or placebo, in combination with methotrexate, for 12 weeks. Preliminary topline data from this trial showed that ATI-450 demonstrated durable clinical activity, as defined by a marked and sustained reduction in DAS28-CRP and improvement of ACR20/50/70 responses over 12 weeks. ATI-450 was generally well tolerated. All adverse events were mild to moderate. The most common adverse events (each reported in 2 subjects) were urinary tract infection, or UTI, elevated lipids and ventricular extrasystoles, all of which were determined to be unrelated to treatment except for one UTI. Two subjects withdrew from the trial, one in the treatment arm and one in the placebo arm. The subject in the treatment arm withdrew due to palpitations, which were unrelated to the trial medication, and an elevated creatine phosphokinase, or CPK, which was determined by the site investigator to be treatment-related. The subject in the placebo arm withdrew as a result of prohibited medication needed to treat muscle strain. There was one non-treatment-related serious adverse event (COVID-19) reported in the four-week safety follow-up phase of the trial in a subject who was no longer receiving treatment.

An interim analysis (11 treatment, two placebo) of ex vivo stimulated cytokines from blood samples taken from the treatment arm showed a marked and durable inhibition of TNFα, IL1β, IL6, and IL8 over the 12 week dosing period. Similarly, analysis of endogenous inflammation biomarkers also demonstrated a marked and sustained inhibition of median concentrations of hsCRP, TNFα, IL6, IL8 and MIP1β in the treatment arm over the 12-week period.

We plan to submit for publication a full analysis of the Phase 2a data in a peer-reviewed scientific journal which will include data from other secondary and exploratory endpoints evaluated in the trial, including the four-week safety follow-up data and a full analysis of MRI, pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic data. Based on the results observed in the Phase 2a trial, we intend to progress ATI-450 into a Phase 2b trial in moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis in the second half of 2021.

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Cryopyrin-associated Periodic Syndrome

In November 2020, we initiated a Phase 2a multicenter, open-label, single-arm clinical trial to investigate the safety, tolerability, efficacy and pharmacodynamics of ATI-450 for the maintenance of remission in subjects with cryopyrin-associated periodic syndrome, or CAPS, previously managed with anti-IL1 therapy (ATI-450-CAPS-201). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, subject enrollment in this trial was paused. As a result of the ongoing pandemic and given the positive preliminary topline data from the ATI-450-RA-201 trial, we have decided to focus our efforts and resources on other immuno-inflammatory diseases.

COVID-19

We also supported an investigator-initiated Phase 2a, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to investigate the safety and efficacy of ATI-450, when used in addition to standard of care therapy, as a potential treatment for cytokine release syndrome in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. The primary endpoint in this trial is the proportion of subjects who are free from respiratory failure by day 14. We provided funding and clinical drug supply to the University of Kansas Medical Center, the sponsor of the trial. The trial included 20 subjects and is completed. We expect data to be available in the first half of 2021.

ATI-1777, an Investigational Topical “Soft” JAK 1/3 Inhibitor

In June 2020, we submitted an IND for ATI-1777, an investigational topical “soft” JAK 1/3 inhibitor compound, for the treatment of moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. “Soft” JAK inhibitors are designed to be topically applied and active in the skin, but rapidly metabolized and inactivated when they enter the bloodstream, which may result in low systemic exposure.

In October 2020, we initiated a Phase 2a, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled, parallel-group clinical trial to determine the efficacy, safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of ATI-1777 in subjects with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis (ATI-1777-AD-201). We expect data to be available mid-year 2021.

ATI-2138, an Investigational ITJ Inhibitor

We are also developing ATI-2138, an investigational oral ITK/TXK/JAK3, or ITJ, inhibitor compound, as a potential treatment for psoriasis and/or inflammatory bowel disease, which are both T-cell mediated autoimmune diseases.  The ITJ compound interrupts T cell signaling through the combined inhibition of ITK/TXK/JAK3 pathways in lymphocytes. We expect to file an IND for ATI-2138 in the second half of 2021.

Our Other Drug Candidates

We continue to seek third-party partners for our dermatology investigational drug candidate A-101 45% Topical Solution as a potential treatment for common warts (verruca vulgaris).

 

Manufacturing and Supply

We do not have any manufacturing facilities.  We rely on third parties for the manufacture of preclinical and clinical supplies for our drug candidates.

Competition

The pharmaceutical industry is characterized by rapidly advancing technologies, intense competition and a strong emphasis on proprietary drugs. While we believe that our knowledge, experience and scientific resources provide us with competitive advantages, we face potential competition from many different sources, including major pharmaceutical, biotechnology and specialty pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions and governmental agencies and public and private research institutions. Our drug candidates, if approved, will compete with existing treatments and new treatments that may become available in the future.

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With respect to ATI-450 as a potential treatment for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, there are several different types of therapies in the rheumatoid arthritis market. Medications for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis currently fall into two categories: drugs that ease symptoms such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and drugs that slow disease activity. Drugs that slow disease activity include corticosteroids and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, or DMARDs. Disease-modifying drugs include conventional DMARDs such as methotrexate, sulfasalazine, leflunomide, hydroxychloroquine, biologic DMARDs (monoclonal antibodies which inhibit targets such as TNF, IL1, IL6 and costimulatory signaling mechanisms), and targeted synthetic DMARDs such as JAK inhibitors. These types of drugs are produced and sold by large pharmaceutical companies, including AbbVie, Amgen, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer, and Roche, among others. In addition, we are aware of a number of companies developing and conducting clinical trials for investigational drug candidates, including biosimilars, that, if approved, could compete with ATI-450, if approved, for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

With respect to ATI-1777 as a potential treatment for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, there are several different types of therapies in the atopic dermatitis market, such as biologics, oral and topical corticosteroids, injectable and oral methotrexate products, oral and topical calcineurin inhibitors, oral mycophenolate products, other JAK inhibitors, other oral antibiotics and antihistamines and phototherapy. There are also several prescription, non-prescription and over-the-counter, or OTC, topical products, including PDE4 inhibitors, utilized to treat atopic dermatitis. These types of drugs are produced and sold by large pharmaceutical companies, including Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Pfizer. In addition, we are aware of a number of companies including large pharmaceutical companies, such as AbbVie, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Incyte, Pfizer and LEO Pharma A/S developing and conducting clinical trials for investigational drug candidates, that, if approved, could compete with ATI-1777, if approved, for the treatment of atopic dermatitis.

The commercial opportunity for our drug candidates, if approved, could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize drugs that are safer, more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient or are less expensive than any drug we may develop. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their drug candidates more rapidly than our potential third-party partners may obtain approval for our drug candidates, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before our drug candidates are able to enter the market.

Many of the companies against which we are competing, or against which we may compete in the future, have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, and preclinical and clinical development than we do. Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. Smaller or early-stage companies may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. These competitors also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and subject registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or that may be necessary for, our development programs.

Intellectual Property

Our success depends in large part upon our ability to obtain and maintain proprietary protection for our drug candidates and to operate without infringing the proprietary rights of others. We seek to avoid the latter by monitoring patents and publications that may affect our business, and to the extent we identify such developments, evaluating and taking appropriate courses of action. Our policy is to protect our proprietary position by, among other methods, filing patent applications on inventions that are important to the development and conduct of our business with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, and its foreign counterparts.

With respect to our MK2 signaling pathway inhibitor development program, we own numerous issued patents and pending applications to novel MK2 pathway inhibitors, including our lead candidate ATI-450, and various methods of use that expire, or would expire, between 2031 and 2041, subject to any applicable patent term adjustment or extension that may be available in a particular country.  For example, we own two U.S. patents and pending applications in the European Union and other foreign countries directed to ATI-450 and analogs thereof and certain methods of using the same.  The U.S. patents expire in 2034 and any claims that may issue from the pending applications expire in 2034, subject to any applicable adjustment or extension. We also own a Patent Cooperation Treaty, or PCT, application directed to deuterated forms of ATI-450 and methods of use, which, if issued, would expire in 2040, subject to any applicable adjustment or extension. Further, we own numerous provisional applications directed to certain methods of using ATI-

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450, methods of manufacturing ATI-450 and crystal forms of ATI-450, which, if issued, would each expire in 2041, subject to any applicable adjustment or extension.

With respect to our “soft” JAK inhibitor development program, we own one issued U.S. patent and numerous pending applications in the U.S. and foreign countries to novel “soft” JAK inhibitors and various methods of use that expire, or would expire, between 2038 and 2041, subject to any applicable patent term adjustment or extension that may be available in a particular country.  For example, we own one allowed U.S. application and pending applications in the European Union and other foreign countries directed to various novel inhibitors of JAK1 and/or JAK3, including ATI-1777, and methods of using the same, which, if issued, would expire in 2038, subject to any applicable adjustment or extension. We also own two provisional applications directed to topical formulations and crystal forms of ATI-1777, which, if issued, would expire in 2041, subject to any applicable adjustment or extension.

With respect to our ITK inhibitor development program, we own numerous issued U.S. patents and pending applications in the U.S. and foreign countries directed to novel inhibitors of ITK and methods of use that expire, or would expire, between 2035 and 2039, subject to any applicable patent term adjustment or extension that may be available in a particular country. We also own pending U.S., European Union and other foreign country applications directed to ATI-2138 and analogs thereof and methods of using the same, which, if issued, would expire in 2039, subject to any applicable adjustment or extension.

Patents extend for varying periods according to the date of patent filing or grant and the legal term of patents in various countries where patent protection is obtained. The actual protection afforded by a patent, which can vary from country to country, depends on the type of patent, the scope of its coverage and the availability of legal remedies in the country. In most countries in which we file, the patent term is 20 years from the earliest date of filing a non-provisional patent application. In the United States, a patent term may be shortened if a patent is terminally disclaimed over another patent or as a result of delays in patent prosecution by the patentee, and a patent’s term may be lengthened by patent term adjustment, which compensates a patentee for administrative delays by the USPTO in granting a patent or by patent term extension, which compensates a patentee for delays at the FDA. The patent term of a European patent is 20 years from its filing date; however, unlike in the United States, the European patent does not grant patent term adjustments. The European Union does have a compensation program similar to patent term extension called supplementary patent certificate that would effectively extend patent protection for up to five years.

We also use other forms of protection, such as trademark, copyright, and trade secret protection, to protect our intellectual property, particularly where we do not believe patent protection is appropriate or obtainable. We aim to take advantage of all of the intellectual property rights that are available to us and believe that this comprehensive approach will provide us with proprietary positions for our drug candidates, where available.

We also protect our proprietary information by requiring our employees, consultants, contractors and other advisors to execute nondisclosure and assignment of invention agreements upon commencement of their respective employment or engagement. Agreements with our employees also prevent them from bringing the proprietary rights of third parties to us. In addition, we also require confidentiality or service agreements from third parties that receive our confidential information or materials.

Acquisition and License Agreements

Agreement and Plan of Merger with Confluence

In August 2017, we entered into an Agreement and Plan of Merger, or the Confluence Agreement, with Confluence, Aclaris Life Sciences, Inc., our wholly-owned subsidiary, or Merger Sub, and Fortis Advisors LLC, as representative of the former equity holders of Confluence.  Pursuant to the terms of the Confluence Agreement, the Merger Sub merged with and into Confluence, with Confluence surviving as our wholly-owned subsidiary, resulting in our acquisition of 100% of the outstanding shares of Confluence. We paid closing consideration of $10.3 million in cash and issued 349,527 shares of our common stock with a fair value of $9.7 million to the former Confluence equity holders. 

In November 2018, a development milestone specified in the Confluence Agreement was achieved, as a result of which we paid the former Confluence equity holders $2.5 million in cash and issued 253,208 shares of our common stock with a fair value of $2.2 million.  Under the Confluence Agreement, we also agreed to pay the former Confluence equity holders aggregate remaining contingent consideration of up to $75.0 million based upon the achievement of specified

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regulatory and commercial milestones set forth in the Confluence Agreement. In addition, we have agreed to pay the former Confluence equity holders future royalty payments calculated as a low single-digit percentage of annual net sales, subject to specified reductions, limitations and other adjustments, until the date that all of the patent rights for that product have expired, as determined on a country-by-country and product-by-product basis or, in specified circumstances, ten years from the first commercial sale of such product.  In addition to the payments described above, if we sell, license or transfer any of the intellectual property acquired from Confluence pursuant to the Confluence Agreement to a third party, we will be obligated to pay the former Confluence equity holders a portion of any consideration received from such sale, license or transfer in specified circumstances.

Government Regulation and Product Approval

Governmental authorities in the United States, at the federal, state and local level, and analogous authorities in other countries extensively regulate, among other things, the research, development, testing, manufacture, safety surveillance, efficacy, quality control, labeling, packaging, distribution, record keeping, promotion, storage, advertising, distribution, marketing, sale, export and import, and the reporting of safety and other post-market information of products such as the ones we are developing. A drug candidate must be approved by the FDA before it may be legally promoted in the United States and by comparable foreign regulatory authorities before marketing in other jurisdictions.  The process of obtaining regulatory approvals and the subsequent compliance with applicable federal, state, local and foreign statutes and regulations require the expenditure of substantial time and resources. Failure to comply with the applicable U.S. requirements at any time during the product development process, approval process or after approval may subject an applicant and/or sponsor to a variety of administrative or judicial sanctions, including refusal by regulatory authorities to approve applications, withdrawal of an approval, imposition of a clinical hold, import/export delays, issuance of warning letters and untitled letters, product recalls, product seizures, total or partial suspension of production or distribution, injunctions, fines, refusals of government contracts, restitution, disgorgement of profits, or civil or criminal investigations and penalties brought by FDA and the Department of Justice or other governmental entities.

United States Government Regulation

NDA Approval Processes

In the United States, the FDA regulates drug and medical device products under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, and its implementing regulations.  The FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has primary jurisdiction over the premarket development, review and approval of our drug candidates. Accordingly, we are investigating our drug candidates pursuant to IND applications and expect that any potential third-party partners that we may consummate a transaction with would seek approval through the New Drug Application, or NDA, pathway.

An applicant seeking approval to market and distribute a new drug product in the United States must typically undertake the following:

completion of preclinical laboratory tests, animal studies and formulation studies in compliance with the FDA’s good laboratory practice regulations;
submission to the FDA of an IND which must take effect before clinical trials may begin;
approval by an independent institutional review board, or IRB, representing each clinical site before clinical testing may be initiated at the clinical site;
performance of adequate and well-controlled clinical trials in accordance with good clinical practice, or GCP, regulations to establish the safety and efficacy of the proposed drug product for each indication;
preparation and submission to the FDA of an NDA;
review of the NDA by an FDA advisory committee, if applicable;
satisfactory completion of one or more FDA inspections of the manufacturing facility or facilities at which the product or its components are produced to assess compliance with current good manufacturing practices, or cGMP, and regulations to assure that the facilities, methods and controls are adequate to preserve the product’s identity, strength, quality and purity;
payment of user fees and securing FDA approval of the NDA; and
compliance with any post-approval requirements, including potential requirements for a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy and post-approval studies required by the FDA.

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Once a drug candidate is identified for development, it enters the preclinical or nonclinical testing stage. Preclinical studies include laboratory evaluations of product chemistry, pharmacology, toxicity and formulation. An IND sponsor must submit the results of the preclinical studies, together with manufacturing information and analytical data, to the FDA as part of the IND. Some preclinical studies may continue even after the IND is submitted. In addition to including the results of the preclinical studies, the IND will also include a protocol detailing, among other things, the objectives of the clinical trial, the parameters to be used in monitoring safety and the effectiveness criteria to be evaluated if the first phase lends itself to an efficacy determination. The IND automatically becomes effective 30 days after receipt by the FDA, unless the FDA, within the 30-day time period, places the IND on clinical hold. In such a case, the IND sponsor and the FDA must resolve any outstanding concerns before clinical trials can begin. A clinical hold may occur at any time during the life of an IND, and may affect one or more specific clinical trials or all clinical trials conducted under the IND.

All clinical trials must be conducted under the supervision of one or more qualified investigators in accordance with current GCP regulations. They must be conducted under protocols detailing the objectives of the trial, dosing procedures, research subject selection and exclusion criteria, and the safety and effectiveness criteria to be evaluated. Each protocol must be submitted to the FDA as part of the IND, and progress reports detailing the status of the clinical trials must be submitted to the FDA annually. Sponsors also must timely report to the FDA serious and unexpected adverse reactions, any clinically important increase in the rate of a serious suspected adverse reaction over that listed in the protocol or investigator brochure, and any findings from other studies or animal or in vitro testing that suggest a significant risk in humans exposed to the drug. An IRB at each institution participating in the clinical trial must review and approve the protocol before the clinical trial commences at that institution and must also approve the information regarding the trial and the consent form that must be provided to each research subject or the subject’s legal representative, monitor the study until completed and otherwise comply with IRB regulations.

Clinical trials are typically conducted in three sequential phases that may overlap or be combined:

Phase 1.  The drug is initially introduced into healthy human subjects and tested for safety, dosage tolerance, absorption, metabolism, distribution and elimination. In the case of some products for severe or life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, and especially when the product may be inherently too toxic to ethically administer to healthy volunteers, the initial human testing is often conducted in patients who already have the condition.
Phase 2.  Clinical trials are performed on a limited patient population intended to identify possible adverse effects and safety risks, to preliminarily evaluate the efficacy of the product for specific targeted diseases and to determine dosage tolerance and optimal dosage.
Phase 3.  If a drug candidate is found to be potentially effective and to have an acceptable safety profile in Phase 2 clinical trials, the clinical trial program will be expanded to Phase 3 clinical trials to further evaluate dosage, clinical efficacy and safety in an expanded patient population at geographically dispersed clinical trial sites. These trials are intended to establish the overall risk-benefit ratio of the product and provide an adequate basis for product approval and labeling claims.

Phase 4 clinical trials are conducted after approval to gain additional experience from the treatment of patients in the intended therapeutic indication and to document a clinical benefit in the case of drugs approved under accelerated approval regulations, or when otherwise requested by the FDA in the form of post-market requirements or commitments. Failure to promptly conduct any required Phase 4 clinical trials could result in withdrawal of approval.

Clinical trials are inherently uncertain, and Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 testing may not be successfully completed. The FDA or the sponsor may suspend a clinical trial at any time for a variety of reasons, including a finding that the research subjects or patients are being exposed to an unacceptable health risk. Similarly, an IRB can suspend or terminate approval of a clinical trial at its institution if the clinical trial is not being conducted in accordance with the IRB’s requirements or if the drug has been associated with unexpected serious harm to patients. In some cases, clinical trials are overseen by an independent group of qualified experts organized by the trial sponsor, which is called the clinical monitoring board or data safety monitoring board. This group provides authorization for whether or not a trial may move forward at designated check points. These decisions are based on the limited access to data from the ongoing trial.

During the development of a new drug, sponsors are given opportunities to meet with the FDA at certain points. These points may be prior to the submission of an IND, at the end of Phase 2 and before an NDA is submitted. Meetings at other times may be requested. These meetings can provide an opportunity for the sponsor to share information about the data gathered to date and for the FDA to provide advice on the next phase of development. Sponsors typically use the meeting at the end of Phase 2 to discuss their Phase 2 clinical trial results and present their plans for the pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial or trials that they believe will support the approval of the new drug.

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Concurrent with clinical trials, sponsors usually complete additional animal safety studies and also develop additional information about the chemistry and physical characteristics of the drug and finalize a process for manufacturing commercial quantities of the product in accordance with cGMP requirements. The manufacturing process must be capable of consistently producing quality batches of the drug and the manufacturer must develop methods for testing the quality, purity and potency of the drug. Additionally, appropriate packaging must be selected and tested, and stability studies must be conducted to demonstrate that the drug candidate does not undergo unacceptable deterioration over its proposed shelf-life.

The results of product development, preclinical studies and clinical trials, along with descriptions of the manufacturing process, analytical tests and other control mechanisms, proposed labeling and other relevant information are submitted to the FDA as part of an NDA requesting approval to market the product. The submission of an NDA is subject to the payment of user fees, but a waiver of such fees may be obtained under specified circumstances. The FDA reviews all NDAs submitted for a period of 60 days to ensure that they are sufficiently complete for substantive review before it accepts them for filing. It may request additional information rather than accept an NDA for filing. In this event, the NDA must be resubmitted with the additional information. The resubmitted application also is subject to review before the FDA accepts it for filing.

During the approval process, the FDA also will determine whether a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS, is necessary to assure the safe use of the product. If the FDA concludes a REMS is needed, the sponsor of the NDA must submit a proposed REMS, and the FDA will not approve the application without an approved REMS, if required. A REMS can substantially increase the costs of obtaining approval. The FDA could also require a special warning, known as a boxed warning, to be included in the product label in order to highlight a particular safety risk.

Once the submission is accepted for filing, the FDA begins an in-depth review. The FDA reviews an NDA to determine, among other things, whether a product is safe and effective for its intended use and whether its manufacturing is cGMP-compliant. The FDA may refer the NDA to an advisory committee for review and recommendation as to whether the application should be approved and under what conditions. The FDA is not bound by the recommendation of an advisory committee, but it generally follows such recommendations. NDAs receive either standard or priority review. A drug representing a significant improvement in treatment, prevention or diagnosis of disease may receive priority review. A priority review designation is intended to direct overall attention and resources to the evaluation of such applications, and to shorten the FDA’s goal for taking action on the NDA from ten months to six months from filing of the NDA. After the FDA evaluates the NDA and conducts inspections of manufacturing facilities where the drug product and/or its active pharmaceutical ingredient will be produced, it may issue an approval letter or a Complete Response Letter. An approval letter authorizes commercial marketing of the drug with specific prescribing information for specific indications. A Complete Response Letter indicates that the review cycle of the application is complete, and the application is not ready for approval. A Complete Response Letter may require additional clinical data and/or an additional pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial(s), and/or other significant, expensive and time-consuming requirements related to clinical trials, preclinical studies or manufacturing. Even if such data and information are submitted, the FDA may ultimately decide that the NDA does not satisfy the criteria for approval.

Post-approval Requirements

Drugs manufactured or distributed pursuant to FDA approvals are subject to pervasive and continuing regulation by the FDA and other governmental agencies, including, among other things, requirements relating to recordkeeping, periodic reporting, product sampling and distribution, advertising and promotion, and reporting of adverse experiences with the product. Once an approval is granted, the FDA may withdraw the approval if compliance with regulatory requirements is not maintained or if problems occur after the product reaches the market. Later discovery of previously unknown problems with a product may result in restrictions on the product or even complete withdrawal of the product from the market. After approval, some types of changes to the approved product, such as adding new indications, manufacturing changes and additional labeling claims, are subject to further FDA review and approval. There are also continuing, annual user fee requirements for products and the establishments at which such products are manufactured, as well as new application fees for certain supplemental applications. In addition, the FDA may require testing and surveillance programs to monitor the effect of approved products that have been commercialized, and the FDA has the power to prevent or limit further marketing of a product based on the results of these post-marketing programs.

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Drug manufacturers and other entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of approved drugs are required to register their establishments with the FDA and certain state agencies, and are subject to periodic unannounced inspections by the FDA and some state agencies for compliance with GMP regulations and other laws. The FDA has promulgated specific requirements for drug cGMPs and device cGMPs embodied in the Quality System Regulation. Changes to the manufacturing process are strictly regulated and often require prior FDA approval before being implemented. FDA regulations also require investigation and correction of any deviations from cGMP requirements and impose reporting and documentation requirements upon the sponsor and any third-party manufacturers that the sponsor may decide to use. Accordingly, manufacturers must continue to expend time, money, and effort in the area of production and quality control to maintain cGMP compliance.

Failure to comply with the applicable U.S. requirements at any time during the product development process or approval process, or after approval, may subject us to administrative or judicial sanctions, any of which could have a material adverse effect on us. These sanctions could include:

refusal to approve pending applications;
withdrawal of an approval;
imposition of a clinical hold;
warning letters;
product seizures or detention, or refusal to permit the import or export of products;
restrictions on the marketing or manufacturing of the product;
total or partial suspension of production or distribution or product recalls; or
injunctions, fines, disgorgement, or civil or criminal penalties.

The FDA strictly regulates the marketing, labeling, advertising and promotion of drug products that are placed on the market. Drugs may be promoted only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved label.  However, companies may share truthful and not misleading information that is otherwise consistent with the product’s FDA approved labeling. The FDA and other agencies actively enforce the laws and regulations prohibiting the promotion of off-label uses, and a company that is found to have improperly promoted off-label uses may be subject to significant liability. However, physicians may, in their independent medical judgment, prescribe legally available products for off-label uses. The FDA does not regulate the behavior of physicians in their choice of treatments but the FDA does restrict manufacturer’s communications on the subject of off-label use of their products.

From time to time, legislation is drafted, introduced and passed in Congress that could significantly change the statutory provisions governing the approval, manufacturing and marketing of products regulated by the FDA. In addition, FDA regulations and guidance are often issued revised or reinterpreted by the agency in ways that may significantly affect our business and our drug candidates. It is impossible to predict whether legislative changes will be enacted, or whether FDA regulations, guidance or interpretations will be issued or changed or what the impact of such changes, if any, may be.

Non-patent Exclusivity

The FDCA provides a five-year period of non-patent marketing exclusivity within the United States to the first applicant to obtain approval of an NDA for a new chemical entity, or NCE. A drug is an NCE if the FDA has not previously approved any other new drug containing the same active moiety, which is the molecule or ion responsible for the action of the drug substance.  If market exclusivity is granted for an NCE, during the exclusivity period, the FDA may not accept for review or approve an abbreviated new drug application, or ANDA, or a 505(b)(2) NDA submitted by another company for another version of such drug where the applicant does not own or have a legal right of reference to all the data required for approval. However, an application may be submitted after four years if it contains a certification of patent invalidity or non-infringement to one of the patents listed with the FDA by the innovator NDA holder.

The FDCA also provides three years of marketing exclusivity for an NDA, or supplement to an existing NDA if new clinical investigations, other than bioavailability studies, that were conducted or sponsored by the applicant are deemed by the FDA to be essential to the approval of the application, for example new indications, dosages, dosage forms or strengths of an existing drug.  This three-year exclusivity covers only the conditions associated with the new clinical investigations and prohibits the FDA from approving an ANDA or a 505(b)(2) NDA submitted by another company with overlapping conditions associated with the new clinical investigations for the three-year period.  Clinical investigation

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exclusivity does not prohibit the FDA from approving ANDAs for drugs containing the original active agent. Five-year and three-year exclusivity will not delay the submission or approval of an NDA for the same drug. However, an applicant submitting an NDA would be required to conduct or obtain a right of reference to all of the preclinical studies and adequate and well-controlled clinical trials necessary to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.

Orphan Drug Designation

Under the Orphan Drug Act, the FDA may grant orphan drug designation to products intended to treat a rare disease or condition—generally one that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals in the United States. Orphan drug designation must be requested before submitting the NDA. After the FDA grants orphan drug designation, the FDA publicly discloses the drug’s identity and its intended orphan use. Orphan drug designation does not convey any advantage in, or shorten the duration of, the regulatory review and approval process. The first active moiety to be approved to treat a disease with FDA’s orphan drug designation is entitled to a seven-year period of marketing exclusivity in the United States for that product, for that indication. During the seven-year exclusivity period, the FDA may not approve any other applications to market the same drug for the same orphan indication, regardless of patent status, except in limited circumstances, such as a showing of clinical superiority to the product with orphan exclusivity or if the FDA finds that the holder of the orphan exclusivity has not shown that it can assure the availability of sufficient quantities of the orphan drug to meet the needs of patients with the disease or condition for which the drug was designated. Orphan drug exclusivity does not prevent the FDA from approving a different chemical/biological entity for the same disease or condition. An orphan drug designation also does not preclude the same drug from being developed for a different disease or condition. Among the other benefits of orphan drug designation are tax credits for certain research expenses and a waiver of the application user fee.

Regulation Outside of the United States

Even if we obtain FDA approval for a drug candidate, we must obtain approval by the comparable regulatory authorities of countries outside of the United States before we can commence clinical trials in such countries, and our potential third-party partners must obtain approval of the regulators of such countries or economic areas, such as the European Union, before they may market any of our drug candidates in those countries or areas. The approval process and requirements governing the conduct of clinical trials, product licensing and promotion, pricing and reimbursement vary greatly by geographic region, and the time may be longer or shorter than that required for FDA approval.

In the European Economic Area, or EEA, which is composed of the Member States of the European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, medicinal products can only be commercialized after obtaining a Marketing Authorization, or MA.

There are two types of MAs:

The Community MA, which is issued by the European Commission through the Centralized Procedure, based on the opinion of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, or CHMP, of the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, and which is valid throughout the entire territory of the EEA. The Centralized Procedure is mandatory for certain types of products, such as biotechnology medicinal products, orphan medicinal products, and medicinal products indicated for the treatment of AIDS, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, auto-immune and viral diseases. The Centralized Procedure is optional for products containing a new active substance not yet authorized in the EEA, or for products that constitute a significant therapeutic, scientific or technical innovation or which are in the interest of public health in the European Union. Under the Centralized Procedure, the maximum timeframe for the evaluation of a marketing authorization application is 210 days (excluding clock stops, when additional written or oral information is to be provided by the applicant in response to questions asked by the CHMP). Accelerated evaluation might be granted by the CHMP in exceptional cases, when the authorization of a medicinal product is of major interest from the point of view of public health and, in particular, from the viewpoint of therapeutic innovation. Under the accelerated procedure, the standard 210 days review period is reduced to 150 days.
National MAs, which are issued by the competent authorities of the Member States of the EEA and only cover their respective territory, are available for products not falling within the mandatory scope of the Centralized Procedure. Where a product has already been authorized for marketing in a Member State of the EEA, this National MA can be recognized in another Member State through the Mutual Recognition Procedure. If the

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product has not received a National MA in any Member State at the time of application, it can be approved simultaneously in various Member States through the Decentralized Procedure.

In the EEA, upon receiving marketing authorization, new chemical entities generally receive eight years of data exclusivity and an additional two years of market exclusivity. If granted, data exclusivity prevents regulatory authorities in the EEA from referencing the innovator’s data to assess a generic application. During the additional two-year period of market exclusivity, a generic marketing authorization can be submitted, and the innovator’s data may be referenced, but no generic product can be marketed until the expiration of the market exclusivity. However, there is no guarantee that a product will be considered by the EEA’s regulatory authorities to be a new chemical entity, and products may not qualify for data exclusivity.

Other Health Care Laws

Health care providers, physicians and third-party payors in the United States and elsewhere will play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any of our drug candidates for which marketing approval is obtained. Our potential third-party partners’ arrangements with third-party payors, health care professionals and customers may expose them to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other health care laws and regulations, including, without limitation, the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and the federal civil False Claims Act, that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which they sell, market and distribute any drug candidates for which marketing approval is obtained. In addition, we and our potential third-party partners may be subject to transparency laws and patient privacy regulation by the federal government and by the U.S. states and foreign jurisdictions in which we or they conduct business.

The federal Anti-Kickback Statute makes it illegal for any person or entity, including a prescription drug manufacturer (or a party acting on its behalf) to knowingly and willfully, directly or indirectly, solicit, receive, offer, or pay any remuneration that is intended to induce the referral of business, including the purchase, order, or lease of any good, facility, item or service for which payment may be made under a federal health care program, such as Medicare or Medicaid. The term “remuneration” has been broadly interpreted to include anything of value. The Anti-Kickback Statute has been interpreted to apply to arrangements between pharmaceutical manufacturers on one hand and prescribers, purchasers, formulary managers, and beneficiaries on the other. Although there are a number of statutory exceptions and regulatory safe harbors protecting some common activities from prosecution, the exceptions and safe harbors are drawn narrowly. Practices that involve remuneration that may be alleged to be intended to induce prescribing, purchases or recommendations may be subject to scrutiny if they do not qualify for an exception or safe harbor. Failure to meet all of the requirements of a particular applicable statutory exception or regulatory safe harbor does not make the conduct per se illegal under the Anti-Kickback Statute. Instead, the legality of the arrangement will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis based on a cumulative review of all its facts and circumstances. Several courts have interpreted the statute’s intent requirement to mean that if any one purpose of an arrangement involving remuneration is to induce referrals of federal health care covered business, the Anti-Kickback Statute has been violated. Violations of this law are punishable by up to ten years in prison, and can also result in criminal fines, civil monetary penalties, administrative penalties and exclusion from participation in federal health care programs.

Additionally, the intent standard under the Anti-Kickback Statute was amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or collectively the Affordable Care Act, to a stricter standard such that a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation. In addition, the Affordable Care Act codified case law that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the federal civil False Claims Act.

Federal false claims and false statement laws, including the federal civil False Claims Act, prohibits, among other things, any person or entity from knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, for payment to, or approval by, federal programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, claims for items or services, including drugs, that are false or fraudulent or not provided as claimed. Entities can be held liable under these laws if they are deemed to “cause” the submission of false or fraudulent claims by, for example, providing inaccurate billing or coding information to customers, promoting a product off-label, or for providing medically unnecessary services or items. In addition, activities relating to the sale and marketing of products are subject to scrutiny under this law. Penalties for federal civil False Claims Act violations may include up to three times the actual damages sustained by the government, plus mandatory civil penalties for each separate false claim,

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the potential for exclusion from participation in federal health care programs, and, although the federal civil False Claims Act is a civil statute, False Claims Act violations may also implicate various federal criminal statutes.  

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, prohibits among other actions, knowingly and willfully executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud any health care benefit program, including private third-party payors, knowingly and willfully embezzling or stealing from a health care benefit program, willfully obstructing a criminal investigation of a health care offense, and knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing or covering up a material fact or making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement in connection with the delivery of or payment for health care benefits, items or services. Like the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Affordable Care Act amended the intent standard for the health care fraud statute under HIPAA such that a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a violation.

The civil monetary penalties statute imposes penalties against any person or entity that, among other things, is determined to have presented or caused to be presented a claim to a federal health program that the person knows or should know is for an item or service that was not provided as claimed or is false or fraudulent.

Also, many states have similar fraud and abuse statutes or regulations that may be broader in scope and may apply regardless of payor, in addition to items and services reimbursed under Medicaid and other state programs. Additionally, to the extent that a product is sold in a foreign country, the seller may be subject to similar foreign laws.

In addition, legislation imposing marketing restrictions and transparency requirements on pharmaceutical manufacturers has been enacted at the state and federal levels.  For example, the Affordable Care Act imposed, among other things, annual reporting requirements to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, for covered manufacturers for certain payments and other transfers of value provided to physicians (defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors) and teaching hospitals, as well as ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members. Beginning in 2022, applicable manufacturers will also be required to report information regarding payments and other transfers of value provided during the previous year to physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologist assistants, and certified nurse-midwives. Failure to submit timely, accurately and completely the required information for all payments, transfers of value and ownership or investment interests may result in civil monetary penalties for “knowing failures.”  Certain states also mandate implementation of compliance programs, impose restrictions on drug manufacturer marketing practices, require registration of certain employees engaged in marketing activities in the location, and/or require the tracking and reporting of gifts, compensation and other remuneration to physicians.  

We have developed a comprehensive compliance program that establishes internal controls to facilitate adherence to the rules and program requirements to which we are subject. Although the development and implementation of compliance programs designed to establish internal controls and facilitate compliance can mitigate the risk of investigation, prosecution, and penalties assessed for violations of these laws, or any other laws that may apply to us, the risks cannot be entirely eliminated. If our operations are found to be in violation of any such laws or any other governmental regulations, we may be subject to significant penalties, including, without limitation, administrative, civil, and criminal penalties, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, contractual damages, reputational harm, diminished profits and future earnings, the curtailment or restructuring of our operations, exclusion from participation in federal and state health care programs, additional reporting requirements and oversight if we become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws and individual imprisonment, any of which could adversely affect our ability to operate our business and our financial results.

We may also be subject to data privacy and security regulation by both the federal government and the states in which we conduct our business. HIPAA, as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH, and their implementing regulations, including the final omnibus rule published on January 25, 2013, mandates, among other things, the adoption of uniform standards for the electronic exchange of information in common health care transactions, as well as standards relating to the privacy and security of individually identifiable health information, which require the adoption of administrative, physical and technical safeguards to protect such information. Among other things, HITECH makes HIPAA’s security standards directly applicable to “business associates”, namely independent contractors or agents of HIPAA covered entities that create, receive or obtain protected health information in connection with providing a service for or on behalf of a covered entity and their subcontractors that use, disclose, access, or otherwise process protected health information. HITECH also increased the civil and criminal penalties that may be imposed against covered entities and business associates, and gave state attorneys general new authority to file civil actions

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for damages or injunctions in federal courts to enforce the federal HIPAA laws and seek attorneys’ fees and costs associated with pursuing federal civil actions. In addition, certain state laws govern the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, some of which are more stringent than HIPAA and many of which differ from each other in significant ways and may not have the same effect, thus complicating compliance efforts. Failure to comply with these laws, where applicable, can result in the imposition of significant civil and/or criminal penalties.

Health Care Reform

In the United States, there have been and continue to be a number of significant legislative initiatives to contain health care costs. For example, in March 2010, the Affordable Care Act was passed, which has had, and is expected to continue to have, a significant impact on the health care industry. The Affordable Care Act was designed to expand coverage for the uninsured and at the same time contain overall health care costs. With regard to pharmaceutical products, among other things, the Affordable Care Act expanded and increased industry rebates for drugs covered under Medicaid programs; addressed a new methodology by which rebates owed by manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program are calculated for drugs that are inhaled, infused, instilled, implanted or injected; extended the rebate program to individuals enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations; established annual fees and taxes on manufacturers of certain branded prescription drugs; made changes to the coverage requirements under the Medicare prescription drug benefit; and established a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers, as a condition for their outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D, must agree to offer 70% point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period.  Moreover, the Affordable Care Act provided incentives to programs that increase the federal government’s comparative effectiveness research and implemented payment system reforms including a national pilot program on payment bundling meant to encourage hospitals, physicians and other providers to improve the coordination, quality and efficiency of certain health care services.

There remain judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act. While Congress has not passed comprehensive repeal legislation, several bills affecting the implementation of certain taxes under the Affordable Care Act have been signed into law.  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 includes a provision repealing, effective January 1, 2019, the tax-based shared responsibility payment imposed by the Affordable Care Act on certain individuals who fail to maintain qualifying health coverage for all or part of a year that is commonly referred to as the “individual mandate”.  In addition, the 2020 federal spending package permanently eliminated, effective January 1, 2020, the Affordable Care Act-mandated “Cadillac” tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage and medical device tax and, effective January 1, 2021, also eliminated the health insurer tax. Further, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, or the BBA, among other things, amended the Affordable Care Act, effective January 1, 2019, to close the coverage gap in most Medicare drug plans, commonly referred to as the “donut hole”.  On December 14, 2018, a Texas U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional in its entirety because the “individual mandate” was repealed by Congress as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Additionally, on December 18, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the District Court ruling that the individual mandate was unconstitutional and remanded the case back to the District Court to determine whether the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act are invalid as well. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing the case, although it is unknown when a decision will be made. Further, although the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, on January 28, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order to initiate a special enrollment period from February 15, 2021 through May 15, 2021 for purposes of obtaining health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. The executive order also instructs certain governmental agencies to review and reconsider their existing policies and rules that limit access to healthcare, including among others, reexamining Medicaid demonstration projects and waiver programs that include work requirements, and policies that create unnecessary barriers to obtaining access to health insurance coverage through Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act. It is unclear how the Supreme Court ruling, other such litigation, and the health care reform measures of the Biden administration will impact the Affordable Care Act and our business.

In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. For example, in August 2011, President Obama signed into law the Budget Control Act of 2011, which, among other things, created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to recommend to Congress proposals in spending reductions. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction did not achieve a targeted deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion for fiscal years 2012 through 2021, triggering the legislation’s automatic reduction to several government programs. This includes aggregate reductions in Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year, which went into effect beginning on April 1, 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, including the BBA, will stay in effect through 2030 with the exception of a temporary suspension from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021, unless additional Congressional action is taken. Additionally, in January 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was

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signed into law, which, among other things, reduced Medicare payments to several providers, including hospitals, cancer treatment centers and imaging centers. Moreover, the Drug Supply Chain Security Act imposes new obligations on manufacturers of pharmaceutical products related to product tracking and tracing. Legislative and regulatory proposals have been made to expand post-approval requirements and restrict sales and promotional activities for pharmaceutical products.

More recently, there has been heightened governmental scrutiny over the manner in which manufacturers set prices for their marketed products. Such scrutiny has resulted in several recent Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to product pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for products.  At the federal level, the Trump administration used several means to propose or implement drug pricing reform, including through federal budget proposals, executive orders and policy initiatives.  For example, on July 24, 2020 and September 13, 2020, President Trump announced several executive orders related to prescription drug pricing that seek to implement several of the administration’s proposals. As a result, the FDA released a final rule on September 24, 2020, effective November 30, 2020 providing guidance for states to build and submit importation plans for drugs from Canada. Further, on November 20, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, finalized a regulation removing safe harbor protection for price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers to plan sponsors under Part D, either directly or through pharmacy benefit managers, unless the price reduction is required by law. The implementation of the rule has been delayed by the Biden administration from January 1, 2022 to January 1, 2023 in response to ongoing litigation. The rule also created a new safe harbor for price reductions reflected at the point-of-sale, as well as a new safe harbor for certain fixed fee arrangements between pharmacy benefit managers and manufacturers, the implementation of which have also been delayed pending review by the Biden administration until March 22, 2021. On November 20, 2020, CMS issued an interim final rule implementing the President Trump’s Most Favored Nation executive order, which would tie Medicare Part B payments for certain physician-administered drugs to the lowest price paid in other economically advanced countries, effective January 1, 2021. On December 28, 2020, the U.S. District Court in Northern California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against implementation of the interim final rule. It is unclear whether the Biden administration will work to reverse these measures or pursue similar policy initiatives. At the state level, legislatures have become increasingly active in passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain product access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing.

The Affordable Care Act, as well as other federal and state health care reform measures that have been and may be adopted in the future, could harm our future revenue.  Additional legislative actions may be taken in the future which may change current regulations, guidance and interpretations. Further, it is also possible that additional governmental action is taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of such actions on our business, if any, cannot presently be determined.

The Hatch Waxman Amendments to the FDCA

Orange Book Listing

In seeking approval for a drug through an NDA, applicants are required to list with the FDA each patent whose claims cover the applicant’s product or a method of using the product. Upon approval of a drug, each of the patents listed in the application for the drug is then published in the FDA’s Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations, commonly known as the Orange Book. Drugs listed in the Orange Book can, in turn, be cited by potential competitors in support of approval of an ANDA or an application covered by Section 505(b)(2) of the FDCA. An ANDA provides for marketing of a drug product that has the same active ingredients, generally in the same strengths and dosage form, as the listed drug and has been shown through pharmacokinetic, or PK, testing to be bioequivalent to the listed drug. Drugs approved in this way are commonly referred to as “generic equivalents” to the listed drug, and can often be substituted by pharmacists under prescriptions written for the original listed drug. Other than the requirement for bioequivalence testing, ANDA applicants are generally not required to conduct, or submit results of, preclinical studies or clinical tests to prove the safety or effectiveness of their drug product. Section 505(b)(2) applications provide for marketing of a drug product that may have the same active ingredients as the listed drug and contains full safety and effectiveness data as an NDA, but at least some of this information comes from studies not conducted by or for the applicant. This alternate regulatory pathway enables the applicant to rely, in part, on the FDA’s findings of safety and efficacy for an existing product, or published literature, in support of its application. The FDA may then approve the new drug candidate

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for all or some of the labeled indications for which the referenced product has been approved, as well as for any new indication sought by the 505(b)(2) applicant.

The ANDA or Section 505(b)(2) applicant is required to certify to the FDA concerning any patents listed for the approved product in the FDA’s Orange Book. Specifically, the applicant must certify that: (i) the required patent information has not been filed; (ii) the listed patent has expired; (iii) the listed patent has not expired, but will expire on a particular date and approval is sought after patent expiration; or (iv) the listed patent is invalid or will not be infringed by the new product. The ANDA or Section 505(b)(2) applicant may also elect to submit a statement certifying that its proposed ANDA label does not contain, or carves out, any language regarding a patented method of use rather than certify to such listed method of use patent. If the applicant does not challenge the listed patents by filing a certification that the listed patent is invalid or will not be infringed by the new product, the ANDA or Section 505(b)(2) application will not be approved until all the listed patents claiming the referenced product have expired.

A certification that the new product will not infringe the already approved product’s listed patents, or that such patents are invalid, is called a Paragraph IV certification. If the ANDA or Section 505(b)(2) applicant has provided a Paragraph IV certification to the FDA, the applicant must also send notice of the Paragraph IV certification to the NDA and patent holders once the ANDA or Section 505(b)(2) application has been accepted for filing by the FDA. The NDA and patent holders may then initiate a patent infringement lawsuit in response to the notice of the Paragraph IV certification. The filing of a patent infringement lawsuit within 45 days of the receipt of a Paragraph IV certification automatically prevents the FDA from approving the ANDA or Section 505(b)(2) application until the earliest of 30 months, expiration of the patent, settlement of the lawsuit, and a decision in the infringement case that is favorable to the ANDA or Section 505(b)(2) applicant. This prohibition is generally referred to as the 30-month stay. Thus, approval of an ANDA or 505(b)(2) NDA could be delayed for a significant period of time depending on the patent certification the applicant makes and the reference drug sponsor’s decision to initiate patent litigation.

The ANDA or Section 505(b)(2) application also will not be approved until any applicable non-patent exclusivity listed in the Orange Book for the referenced product has expired.

Patent Term Extension

In the United States, after NDA approval, owners of relevant drug patents may apply for up to a five year patent extension, which provides patent term restoration as compensation for the patent term lost during the FDA regulatory review process for the first permitted commercial marketing of a drug product. The Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, or the Hatch-Waxman Act, permits a patent term extension of up to five years beyond the expiration of the patent. The allowable patent term extension is calculated as half of the drug’s testing phase, which is the time between the IND submission becoming effective and the NDA submission, and all of the review phase, which is the time between NDA submission and approval, up to a maximum extension of five years. The time can be shortened if the FDA determines that the applicant did not pursue approval with due diligence. Patent extension cannot extend the remaining term of a patent beyond a total of 14 years from the date of product approval and only one patent applicable to an approved drug may be extended.  

Similar provisions are available in the European Union and other foreign jurisdictions to extend the term of a patent that covers an approved drug. For example, in Japan, it may be possible to extend the patent term for up to five years and in the European Union, it may be possible to obtain a supplementary patent certificate that would effectively extend patent protection for up to five years.

Coverage and Reimbursement

We believe the success of our drug candidates, if approved, will depend on obtaining and maintaining coverage and adequate reimbursement as a prescription treatment or in the absence of coverage and adequate reimbursement, on the extent to which patients will be willing to pay out of pocket for our prescription drug products.

Third-party payors determine which prescription drug products they will cover and establish reimbursement levels. Reimbursement by a third-party payor may depend upon a number of factors, including: the third-party payor’s determination that a product is safe, effective, and medically necessary; appropriate for the specific patient; cost-effective; supported by peer-reviewed medical journals or current clinical practice guidelines; and whether there are competitive products, either branded or generic, and the pricing of those products.  Many private third-party payors, such as managed care plans, manage access to drug products’ coverage partly to control costs for their plans, and may use drug formularies and medical policies to limit their exposure.  Obtaining and maintaining favorable reimbursement can be a time-consuming

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and expensive process, and our potential third-party partners may not be able to negotiate or continue to negotiate reimbursement or pricing terms for our drug candidates, if approved, with third-party payors at levels that are profitable to us, or at all.  

In addition to uncertainties surrounding coverage policies, there are periodic changes to reimbursement.  Third-party payors regularly update reimbursement amounts and also from time to time revise the methodologies used to determine reimbursement amounts.  Accordingly, these updates could impact the demand for our drug candidates, if approved. Our drug candidates, if approved, may not be considered cost effective, and government and third-party private health insurance coverage and reimbursement may not be available to patients or sufficient to allow our potential third-party partners to sell our drug candidates, if approved, on a competitive and profitable basis.  Our results of operations could be adversely affected by the Affordable Care Act and by other health care reforms that may be enacted or adopted in the future.  In addition, increasing emphasis on managed care in the United States will continue to put pressure on the pricing of pharmaceutical products.  Cost control initiatives could decrease the price that our potential third-party partners could receive for any of our drug candidates, if approved, and could adversely affect our profitability.  We cannot predict how pending and future health care legislation will impact our business, and any changes in coverage and reimbursement that further restricts coverage of our drug candidates could harm our business.

Foreign governments also have their own health care reimbursement systems, which vary significantly by country and region, and we cannot be sure that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be made available with respect to our drug candidates, if approved, under any foreign reimbursement system.  In some foreign countries, including major markets in the European Union and Japan, the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control.  In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take up to 12 months or longer after the receipt of regulatory marketing approval for a product.  To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, we may be required to conduct a pharmacoeconomic study that compares the cost-effectiveness of our drug candidate to other available therapies.  Such pharmacoeconomic studies can be costly and the results uncertain.  Our business could be harmed if reimbursement of our drug candidates, if approved, is unavailable or limited in scope or amount or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels.

Employees and Human Capital Resources

As of December 31, 2020, we had 60 total employees, of which 57 were full-time employees. All of our employees are located in the United States. None of our employees are represented by a labor union or covered by a collective bargaining agreement. We consider our relationship with our employees to be good.

Our human capital resources objectives include, as applicable, identifying, recruiting, retaining, incentivizing and integrating our existing and new employees, advisors and consultants. The principal purposes of our equity incentive plans are to attract, retain and reward personnel through the granting of stock-based compensation awards in order to increase stockholder value and the success of our company by motivating such individuals to perform to the best of their abilities and achieve our objectives.

Corporate Information

We were incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware in July 2012. Our principal executive offices are located at 640 Lee Road, Suite 200, Wayne, PA 19087. Our telephone number is (484) 324-7933. Our common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “ACRS.”

Available Information

Our internet website address is www.aclaristx.com.  In addition to the information contained in this Annual Report, information about us can be found on our website. Our website and information included in or linked to our website are not part of this Annual Report.  

Our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act are available free of charge through our website as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC.  The SEC also maintains a website that contains our reports, proxy and information statements and other information.  The address of the SEC’s website is www.sec.gov.

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Item 1A. Risk Factors

Our business is subject to numerous risks. You should carefully consider the following risks and all other information contained in this Annual Report, as well as general economic and business risks, together with any other documents we file with the SEC. If any of the following events actually occur or risks actually materialize, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and financial condition and cause the trading price of our common stock to decline.

Summary of Risk Factors

 

We have incurred significant losses since our inception. We expect to incur losses over the next several years and may never achieve or maintain profitability.
We will need substantial additional funding to meet our financial obligations and to pursue our business objectives. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we could be forced to curtail our planned operations.
Our business is dependent on the successful development of our investigational drug candidate, ATI-450.
We have a limited history as a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing and partnering our drug candidates, which may make it difficult to evaluate the success of our business to date and to assess our future viability.
If we are unable to successfully develop our drug candidates and to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates, or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be harmed.
Our future success depends on our ability to retain key executives and to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel.
We intend to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates. If those arrangements are not successful, we may not be able to capitalize on the market potential of these drug candidates.
Our business has been adversely impacted and could continue to be adversely affected by the evolving and ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic in regions where we or third parties on which we rely have manufacturing facilities, clinical trial sites or other business operations. The COVID-19 pandemic could adversely affect our operations, including at our headquarters and at our clinical trial sites, as well as the business or operations of our manufacturers, contract research organizations or other third parties with whom we conduct business.
If we are unable to obtain and maintain patent protection for our drug candidates, or if the scope of the patent protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize technology and drugs similar or identical to ours, and our ability to successfully pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with potential third-party partners, to commercialize our technology and drug candidates may be impaired.
We face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing drugs before or more successfully than we do.

Risks Related to Our Business, Our Financial Position and Capital Needs

We have incurred significant losses since our inception. We expect to incur losses over the next several years and may never achieve or maintain profitability.

Since inception, we have incurred significant net losses. We incurred net losses of $51.0 million and $161.4 million for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively. As of December 31, 2020, we had an accumulated deficit of $504.5 million. We have financed our operations over the last several years primarily from sales of equity securities and incurring indebtedness in the form of loans from commercial lenders.

We have devoted substantially all of our financial resources and efforts to the development of our drug candidates, including preclinical studies and clinical trials, and from 2018 to October 2019, to the commercialization of our products.

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Our net losses may fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter and year to year. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and operating losses in the near term as we:

pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and seeking to consummate transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates;
continue the clinical development of ATI-450, our MK2 inhibitor, as a potential treatment for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis and potentially other immuno-inflammatory diseases, and ATI-1777, our “soft” JAK inhibitor, as a potential treatment for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis;
continue to develop our preclinical drug candidates, including ATI-2138, our ITJ inhibitor;
continue to discover and develop additional drug candidates;
maintain, expand and protect our intellectual property portfolio; and
incur legal, accounting, investor relations and other administrative expenses in operating as a public company.  

To become and remain profitable, we must succeed in a range of challenging activities, including completing preclinical testing and clinical trials of our drug candidates and pursuing strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, for the further development and/or commercialization of our drug candidates, as well as discovering and developing additional drug candidates. We are in the early stages of most of these activities. We may never succeed in these activities and, even if we do, may never earn revenue from our drug candidates that is significant enough to achieve profitability.

For any of our drug candidates, our revenue will be dependent, in part, upon our ability to identify and consummate transactions with third-party partners to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize those drug candidates. Further, we will be dependent on our potential third-party partners’ ability to obtain marketing approval and successfully commercialize the product, upon the size of the markets in the territories where marketing approval is obtained, the accepted price for the product, and the ability to obtain coverage and reimbursement, if any. If we fail to identify and enter into partnerships with third parties to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates, any partnerships we enter into do not result in the successful development, marketing approval for and commercialization of our drug candidates, the number of addressable patients is not as significant as estimated by our potential third-party partners, the indication approved by regulatory authorities is narrower than expected, or the treatment population is narrowed by competition, physician choice or treatment guidelines, we may not earn significant revenue from agreements with potential third-party partners for such drug candidates, even if the drug candidates are approved for marketing. 

Because of the numerous risks and uncertainties associated with drug development, we are unable to accurately predict the timing or amount of expenses or when, or if, we will be able to achieve profitability. If we are required by regulatory authorities to perform studies in addition to those expected, or if there are any delays in the initiation and completion of our clinical trials, the development of any of our drug candidates or the identification and consummation of transactions with third-party partners to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates, our expenses could increase.

Even if we achieve profitability, we may not be able to sustain or increase profitability on a quarterly or annual basis. Our failure to become and remain profitable would depress the value of our company and could impair our ability to raise capital, expand our business, maintain our development efforts, diversify our offerings or continue our operations. A decline in the value of our company could also cause you to lose all or part of your investment.

We will need substantial additional funding to meet our financial obligations and to pursue our business objectives. If we are unable to raise capital when needed, we could be forced to curtail our planned operations. 

Identifying potential drug candidates and conducting preclinical testing and clinical trials is a time-consuming, expensive and uncertain process that takes years to complete, and we may never generate the necessary data or results required to identify and consummate transactions with third-party partners to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates. We expect to incur significant expenses and operating losses for the foreseeable future as we advance our drug candidates from discovery through preclinical and clinical development. In addition, we may not be able to identify and consummate transactions with third-party partners to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates, and our drug candidates, if approved, may not achieve

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commercial success.  Furthermore, we incur and expect to continue to incur significant costs associated with operating as a public company, including legal, accounting, investor relations and other expenses.  

As of December 31, 2020, we had cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities of $54.1 million. We believe that our existing cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities as of the date of this Annual Report will enable us to fund our operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements for a period greater than 12 months from the date of this report based on our current operating assumptions. These assumptions may prove to be wrong, and we could use our available capital resources sooner than we expect. Changes may occur beyond our control that would cause us to consume our available capital before that time, including changes in and progress of our development activities, acquisitions of additional products or drug candidates, and changes in regulation. Our future capital requirements will depend on many factors, including:

the number and development requirements of the drug candidates that we may pursue;
the scope, progress, results and costs of preclinical development, laboratory testing and conducting preclinical and clinical trials for our drug candidates;
the costs, timing and outcome of regulatory review of our drug candidates;
the extent to which we in-license or acquire additional drug candidates and technologies;
the costs and timing of preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications, maintaining and enforcing our intellectual property rights and defending any intellectual property-related claims;
the impact on the timing of our preclinical studies, on the recruitment, enrollment, conduct and timing of our clinical trials, and on our business, due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
our ability to identify and consummate transactions with third-party partners to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates, and earn revenue from such arrangements; and
the revenue earned from our commercial products as a result of licenses to, or partnerships with, third parties.

We will require additional capital to complete the clinical development of ATI-450 and ATI-1777, to develop our preclinical compounds and to support our discovery efforts.  Additional funds may not be available on a timely basis, on commercially acceptable terms, or at all, and such funds, if raised, may not be sufficient to enable us to continue to implement our long-term business strategy. Our ability to raise additional capital may be adversely impacted by potential worsening global economic conditions and the recent disruptions to, and volatility in, the credit and financial markets in the United States and worldwide resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If we are unable to raise sufficient additional capital, we could be forced to curtail our planned operations.

Our business is dependent on the successful development of our drug candidate, ATI-450.

Our pipeline includes ATI-450, our investigational oral, novel, selective MK2 inhibitor compound, which we are developing as a potential treatment for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis and potentially other immuno-inflammatory diseases. The success of our business will significantly depend on our successful development of and/or our ability to pursue strategic alternatives for, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize, ATI-450.

Raising additional capital may cause dilution to our stockholders, restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our technologies, intellectual property, potential future revenue streams or drug candidates.

Until such time, if ever, as we can earn substantial revenue, we expect to finance our cash needs through a combination of equity offerings, debt financings and license and partnership agreements. To the extent that we raise additional capital through the sale of equity securities or convertible debt securities, your ownership interest will be diluted, and the terms of these securities may include liquidation or other preferences that adversely affect your rights as a common stockholder. Debt financing and preferred equity financing, if available, may involve agreements that include covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures or declaring dividends.

If we raise additional funds through partnerships, strategic alliances or marketing, distribution or licensing arrangements with potential third-party partners, we may be required to relinquish valuable rights to our technologies, intellectual property, potential future revenue streams, or drug candidates or grant licenses on terms that may not be

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favorable to us. If we are unable to raise additional funds through equity or debt financings or other arrangements with third parties when needed, we may be required to delay, limit, reduce or terminate our drug development efforts or grant rights to third parties to develop technologies, intellectual property, or drug candidates that we would otherwise prefer to develop ourselves.

We have a limited history as a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing and partnering our drug candidates, which may make it difficult to evaluate the success of our business to date and to assess our future viability.

Our operations over the last several years have been largely focused on raising capital, undertaking preclinical studies and conducting clinical trials, and acquiring new drug candidates and related intellectual property. We have had limited time to demonstrate our ability to successfully develop, manufacture and identify and consummate transactions with third-party partners to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates. Consequently, any predictions you make about our future success or viability may not be as accurate as they could be if we had a longer history of being a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and partnering drugs. We may also encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other known or unknown factors in achieving our business objectives.

Our business has been adversely impacted and could continue to be adversely affected by the evolving and ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic in regions where we or third parties on which we rely have manufacturing facilities, clinical trial sites or other business operations. The COVID-19 pandemic could adversely affect our operations, including at our headquarters and at our clinical trial sites, as well as the business or operations of our manufacturers, contract research organizations or other third parties with whom we conduct business.

Our business has been adversely affected by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in travel and other restrictions in order to reduce the spread of the disease, which, among other things, direct businesses and governmental agencies to cease non-essential operations at physical locations, prohibit certain non-essential gatherings, and order cessation of non-essential travel. In response to these public health directives and orders, we have implemented a virtual operations strategy, including teleworking and other alternative work arrangements for all employees. The effects of our alternative work arrangement policies may negatively impact productivity, disrupt our business and delay our preclinical drug development and clinical trials and timelines, the magnitude of which will depend, in part, on the length and severity of the restrictions and other limitations on our ability to conduct our business in the ordinary course. These and similar, and perhaps more severe, disruptions in our operations could negatively impact our business, operating results and financial condition.

Quarantines, executive and similar government orders, and business shutdowns, or the perception that such orders, shutdowns or other restrictions on the conduct of business operations could occur, related to COVID-19 or other infectious diseases could impact personnel at third-party manufacturing facilities in the United States and other countries, or the availability or cost of materials, which would disrupt our supply chain. Some of our third-party manufacturers which we use for the supply of materials for our drug candidates or other materials necessary to manufacture drug product to conduct preclinical studies and clinical trials are located in countries affected by COVID-19, and should they experience disruptions, such as temporary closures or suspension of services, we would likely experience delays in advancing these studies and trials.

In addition, our clinical trials have been and may continue to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinical site initiation and patient enrollment may be delayed due to prioritization of hospital resources toward the COVID-19 pandemic. Some subjects may not be able to comply with clinical trial protocols if quarantines impede patient movement or interrupt healthcare services. Similarly, our ability to recruit and retain subjects and principal investigators and site staff who, as healthcare providers, may have heightened exposure to COVID-19, may adversely impact our clinical trial operations. For example, due to the COVID-19 pandemic subject enrollment in our ATI-450-CAPS-201 trial was paused as a result of which, among other reasons, we have decided to focus our efforts and resources on other immuno-inflammatory diseases.

The spread of COVID-19, which has caused a broad impact globally, may materially affect us economically. While the potential economic impact brought by, and the duration of, the COVID-19 pandemic may be difficult to assess or predict, the widespread pandemic could result in significant disruption of global financial markets, reducing our ability to access capital, which could in the future negatively affect our liquidity and impact our ability to make scheduled payments pursuant to our Loan and Security Agreement with Silicon Valley Bank, or SVB. In addition, a recession or

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market correction resulting from the further spread of COVID-19 could materially affect our business and the value of our common stock.

The global COVID-19 pandemic continues to rapidly evolve. The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our business, our preclinical and clinical development and our regulatory efforts will depend on future developments that are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted, such as the geographic spread of the disease, the duration of the outbreak, travel restrictions, quarantines, stay-at-home orders, social distancing requirements and business closures, and supply chain and other disruptions in the United States and other countries, and the effectiveness of actions taken in the United States and other countries to contain and treat the disease, including the success of mass vaccination efforts.  Accordingly, we do not yet know the full extent of the impacts on our business, our preclinical and clinical development and regulatory activities, healthcare systems or the global economy as a whole.  However, these impacts could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.

In addition, to the extent the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic adversely affects our business and results of operations, it may also have the effect of heightening many of the other risks and uncertainties described herein.

We may not be able to generate sufficient cash to service our indebtedness, including the Loan and Security Agreement with SVB.

In March 2020, we entered into the Loan and Security Agreement with SVB, pursuant to which we borrowed $11.0 million. Our obligations under the Loan and Security Agreement are secured by substantially all of our assets except for our intellectual property, and restrict us from encumbering our intellectual property without SVB’s prior written consent. The Loan and Security Agreement contains customary representations, warranties and covenants by us, which covenants, among other things, limit our ability, subject to specified exceptions, to convey, sell, lease, transfer, assign or otherwise dispose of our assets; engage in any business other than the businesses currently engaged in by us or reasonably related thereto; liquidate or dissolve; undergo specified change of control events; create, incur, assume or be liable for indebtedness; create, incur, allow or suffer any liens on our property; pay dividends and make other restricted payments; make investments; or enter into any material transactions with our affiliates. Our obligations under the Loan and Security Agreement are subject to acceleration upon the occurrence of specified events of default, including a material adverse change in our business, operations or financial condition. We may also enter into other debt agreements in the future which may contain similar or more restrictive terms.

Our ability to make scheduled monthly payments or to refinance our debt obligations depends on numerous factors, including the amount of our cash reserves and our actual and projected financial and operating performance. These amounts and our performance are subject to certain financial and business factors, as well as prevailing economic and competitive conditions, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of which may be beyond our control. We cannot guarantee that we will maintain a level of cash reserves or cash flows from operating activities sufficient to permit us to pay the principal, premium, if any, and interest on our existing or future indebtedness. If our cash flows and capital resources are insufficient to fund our debt service obligations, we may be forced to reduce or delay capital expenditures, sell assets or operations, seek additional capital or restructure or refinance our indebtedness. We cannot guarantee that we would be able to take any of these actions, or that these actions would permit us to meet our scheduled debt service obligations. Failure to comply with the covenants and conditions of the Loan and Security Agreement could result in an event of default, which could result in an acceleration of amounts due under the Loan and Security Agreement. We may not have sufficient funds or may be unable to arrange for additional financing to repay our indebtedness or to make any accelerated payments, and SVB could seek to enforce security interests in the collateral securing such indebtedness, which would harm our business.

Risks Related to the Development and Potential Commercialization of Our Drug Candidates

If we are unable to successfully develop our drug candidates and to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates, or experience significant delays in doing so, our business will be harmed.

We have invested significant efforts and financial resources in the development of our drug candidates and the identification of potential drug candidates. Our ability to earn substantial revenue from our drug candidates will depend heavily on our ability to successfully develop and pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize these drug

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candidates. The success of any drug candidates that we develop, including ATI-450, will depend on several factors, including:

successful completion of preclinical studies and our clinical trials;
successful development of manufacturing processes;
receipt of timely approvals from applicable regulatory authorities;
the identification and consummation of transactions with third-party partners to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates;
the commercial launch of our drug candidates, if approved, by a potential third-party partner;
our potential third-party partners’ ability to achieve acceptance of our drug candidates, if approved, by patients, the medical community and third-party payors, and willingness of patients to pay out of pocket for our drug candidates when third-party payor coverage and reimbursement is limited or unavailable;
our potential third-party partners’ ability to achieve success in educating physicians and patients about the benefits, administration and use of our drug candidates, if approved;
the prevalence and severity of adverse events experienced with our drug candidates;
the availability, perceived advantages, cost, safety and efficacy of alternative treatments for the proposed indications of our drug candidates;
obtaining and maintaining patent, trademark and trade secret protection and regulatory exclusivity for our drug candidates and otherwise protecting the intellectual property portfolio;
maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements, including current good manufacturing practices, or cGMPs;
our potential third-party partners’ ability to compete effectively with other treatment procedures; and
our potential third-party partners’ ability to maintain a continued acceptable safety, tolerability and efficacy profile of our drug candidates following marketing approval.

Whether marketing approval will be granted is unpredictable and depends upon numerous factors, including the substantial discretion of the regulatory authorities. Our drug candidates’ success in clinical trials will not guarantee marketing approval. Following submission, the NDA for any drug candidate may not be accepted for substantive review, or even if it is accepted for substantive review the FDA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require additional studies or clinical trials, additional data, or additional manufacturing steps, or require other conditions before they will reconsider or approve the application, which could increase costs and cause delays in the marketing approval process and which may require the expenditure of additional resources. These delays would also impact our ability to identify and consummate transactions with third-party partners to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates. In addition, the FDA or other comparable foreign regulatory authorities may not consider sufficient any additional required studies, clinical trials, data or information that we perform and complete or generate, or we may decide to abandon the program.

It is possible that our drug candidates currently in development will never obtain marketing approval. If we do not achieve one or more of these factors in a timely manner or at all, we could experience significant delays or an inability to successfully pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates, which would harm our business.

Clinical drug development involves a lengthy and expensive process, with an uncertain outcome. We may incur additional costs or experience delays in completing, or ultimately be unable to complete, the development of and pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates.

The risk of failure for our drug candidates is high. It is impossible to predict when or if any of our drug candidates will prove effective or safe in humans or will receive marketing approval. Before obtaining regulatory approval for the sale of any drug candidate, we must complete preclinical development and then conduct extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our drug candidates in humans for use in the target indication. Clinical testing is expensive, difficult to design and implement, can take many years to complete and is inherently uncertain as to outcome.

A failure of one or more clinical trials can occur at any stage of testing. The outcome of preclinical testing and early clinical trials may not be predictive of the success of later clinical trials, and interim results of a clinical trial do not

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necessarily predict final results. Moreover, preclinical and clinical data are often susceptible to varying interpretations and analyses, and many companies that have believed their drug candidates performed satisfactorily in preclinical studies and clinical trials have nonetheless failed to obtain marketing approval of their drugs.

We may experience numerous unforeseen events during or as a result of clinical trials that could delay or prevent our ability to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates, including:

regulators or IRBs may not authorize us or our investigators to commence a clinical trial or conduct a clinical trial at a prospective trial site;
we may experience delays in reaching, or fail to reach, agreement on acceptable clinical trial contracts or clinical trial protocols with prospective trial sites or prospective contract research organizations, or CROs, the terms of which can be subject to extensive negotiation and may vary significantly among different CROs and trial sites;
clinical trials of our drug candidates may produce negative or inconclusive results, including failure to demonstrate statistical significance, and we may decide, or regulators may require us, to conduct additional clinical trials or abandon drug development programs;
the number of patients required for clinical trials of our drug candidates may be larger than we anticipate, enrollment in these clinical trials may be slower than we anticipate, or participants may drop out of these clinical trials or fail to return for post-treatment follow-up at a higher rate than we anticipate;
the COVID-19 pandemic may impact the recruitment, enrollment, conduct and timing of our clinical trials;
our drug candidates may have undesirable side effects or other unexpected characteristics, causing us or our investigators, regulators or IRBs to suspend or terminate the trials;
our third-party contractors may fail to comply with regulatory requirements or meet their contractual obligations to us in a timely manner, or at all;
regulators or IRBs may require that we or our investigators suspend or terminate clinical development for various reasons, including noncompliance with regulatory requirements or a finding that the participants are being exposed to unacceptable health risks;
the cost of clinical trials of our drug candidates may be greater than we anticipate; and
the supply or quality of our drug candidates or other materials necessary to conduct clinical trials of our drug candidates may be insufficient or inadequate.

We could also encounter delays if a clinical trial is suspended or terminated by us, by the IRBs of the institutions in which such trials are being conducted, by a data safety monitoring board for such trial or by the FDA or other regulatory authorities. Such authorities may impose such a suspension or termination due to a number of factors, including failure to conduct the clinical trial in accordance with regulatory requirements or our clinical protocols, inspection of the clinical trial operations or trial site by the FDA or other regulatory authorities resulting in the imposition of a clinical hold, unforeseen safety issues or adverse side effects, failure to demonstrate a benefit from using a drug, changes in governmental regulations or administrative actions or lack of adequate funding to continue the clinical trial.  If we experience delays in the completion of, or termination of, any clinical trial of our drug candidates, our costs will increase, our drug candidate development process will be slowed, the commercial prospects of our drug candidates will be harmed, and our ability to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates will be delayed. Any of these occurrences may harm our business, financial condition and prospects significantly. In addition, many of the factors that cause, or lead to, a delay in the commencement or completion of clinical trials may also ultimately lead to the denial of marketing approval of our drug candidates. If we are required to conduct additional clinical trials or other testing of our drug candidates beyond those that we currently contemplate, if we are unable to successfully complete clinical trials of our drug candidates or other testing, if the results of these trials or tests are not favorable or if there are safety concerns, we may not be able to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates, and our potential third-party partners may:

be delayed in obtaining marketing approval for our drug candidates;
not obtain marketing approval at all;
obtain marketing approval for indications or patient populations that are not as broad as intended or desired;

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obtain marketing approval with labeling that includes significant use or distribution restrictions or safety warnings;
be subject to additional post-marketing testing requirements; or
have the drug removed from the market after obtaining marketing approval.

Our drug development costs will also increase if we experience delays in testing. We do not know whether any of our preclinical studies or clinical trials will begin as planned, will need to be restructured or will be completed on schedule, or at all. Significant preclinical study or clinical trial delays also could shorten any periods during which our potential third-party partners may have the exclusive right to commercialize our drug candidates or allow competitors to bring drugs to market before such third-party partners do, which would impact our ability to successfully identify and consummate transactions with third-party partners to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates.

If we experience delays or difficulties in the enrollment of subjects in clinical trials, our ability to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates could be delayed or prevented.

Successful and timely completion of clinical trials will require that we enroll a sufficient number of subjects. Subject enrollment, a significant factor in the timing of clinical trials, is affected by many factors including the size and nature of the patient population. Trials may be subject to delays as a result of subject enrollment taking longer than anticipated or subject withdrawal, including as a result of factors beyond our control, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. We may not be able to initiate or continue clinical trials for our drug candidates if we are unable to locate and enroll a sufficient number of eligible patients to participate in these trials as required by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside the United States. We cannot predict how successful we will be at enrolling subjects in future clinical trials. Subject enrollment is affected by other factors including:

the eligibility criteria for the trial in question;
the perceived risks and benefits of the drug candidate in the trial;
the availability of drugs approved to treat the disease in the trial;
the efforts to facilitate timely enrollment in clinical trials;
the patient referral practices of physicians;
the ability to monitor patients adequately during and after treatment; and
the proximity and availability of clinical trial sites for prospective patients.

Our inability to enroll a sufficient number of subjects for clinical trials would result in significant delays and could require us or them to abandon one or more clinical trials altogether. Enrollment delays in these clinical trials may result in increased development costs for our drug candidates, which would cause the value of our company to decline and limit our ability to obtain additional financing. Furthermore, we rely on and expect to continue to rely on CROs and clinical trial sites to ensure the proper and timely conduct of our clinical trials and we will have limited influence over their performance. Any delays in completing clinical trials would delay or prevent our ability to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates.

Our clinical trials may fail to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of our drug candidates, or serious adverse or unacceptable side effects may be identified during the development of our drug candidates, which could increase our costs or necessitate the abandonment or limitation of the development of our drug candidates or prevent or delay our ability to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates.

If our drug candidates are associated with side effects in clinical trials or have characteristics that are unexpected, our costs could increase or we may need to abandon their development or limit development to more narrow uses in which the side effects or other characteristics are less prevalent, less severe or more acceptable from a risk-benefit perspective. The FDA or an IRB may also require that we suspend, discontinue, or limit our clinical trials based on safety information. Such findings could further result in regulatory authorities failing to provide marketing authorization for our drug candidates. Many drug candidates that initially showed promise in early stage testing have later been found to cause side effects that prevented further development of the drug candidate.

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Before any potential third-party partners can obtain marketing approvals for the commercial sale of our drug candidates, we must demonstrate through lengthy, complex and expensive preclinical testing and clinical trials that our drug candidates are both safe and effective for use in each target indication, and failures can occur at any stage of testing. Clinical trials often fail to demonstrate safety and efficacy of the drug candidate studied for the target indication.

Additionally, if we or others identify undesirable side effects caused by our drugs, a number of potentially significant negative consequences could result, including:

we may need to abandon the development or limit the further development of our drug candidates, including in various populations and for certain indications;  
regulatory authorities may withdraw approval to market such product;
regulatory authorities may require additional warnings on the labels;
a medication guide outlining the risks of such side effects for distribution to patients may be required;
we could be sued and held liable for harm caused to patients;
our reputation and physician or patient acceptance of our drug candidates, if approved, may suffer; and
our ability to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates would be harmed.

For example, we are supporting an investigator-initiated trial of ATI-450 in hospitalized patients with COVID-19.  Although the COVID-19 trial is not sponsored by us, the use of ATI-450 in a hospitalized and severely ill patient population may be associated with adverse events and risks that could jeopardize our development of ATI-450 in other populations and indications, including our trials in subjects with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.

Any of these events could prevent us from pursuing strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize the particular drug candidate and could significantly harm our business, results of operations and prospects.

Interim, topline and preliminary data from our clinical trials that we announce or publish from time to time may change as more subject data become available and are subject to audit and verification procedures that could result in material changes in the final data.

From time to time, we may publicly disclose interim, topline or preliminary data from our clinical trials, such as the preliminary topline results from our Phase 2a trial of ATI-450 in subjects with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, which are based on a preliminary analysis of then-available data, and the results and related findings and conclusions are subject to change following a full analysis of all data related to the particular trial. We also make assumptions, estimations, calculations and conclusions as part of our analyses of data, and we may not have received or had the opportunity to fully and carefully evaluate all data. In addition, we may report preliminary analyses of only certain endpoints rather than all endpoints. As a result, the interim, topline or preliminary results that we report may differ from future results of the same trials, or different conclusions or considerations may qualify such results, once additional data have been received and fully evaluated. Topline data also remain subject to audit and verification procedures that may result in the final data being materially different from the preliminary data we previously published. As a result, interim, topline and preliminary data should be viewed with caution until the final data are available. We may also disclose interim data from our clinical trials. Interim data from clinical trials that we may complete are subject to the risk that one or more of the clinical outcomes may materially change as subject enrollment continues and more subject data become available. Adverse differences between interim, topline or preliminary data and final data could significantly harm our reputation and business prospects. Further, disclosure of interim, topline or preliminary data by us or by our competitors could result in volatility in the price of our common stock.

Further, others, including regulatory agencies, may not accept or agree with our assumptions, estimates, calculations, conclusions or analyses or may interpret or weigh the importance of data differently, which could impact the potential of the particular program, the likelihood of marketing approval or commercialization of the particular drug candidate, any approved product, and our company in general. In addition, the information we choose to publicly disclose regarding a particular study or clinical trial is derived from information that is typically extensive, and you or others may not agree with what we determine is material or otherwise appropriate information to include in our disclosure, and any

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information we determine not to disclose may ultimately be deemed significant with respect to future decisions, conclusions, views, activities or otherwise regarding a particular program, drug candidate or our business.

If the interim, topline or preliminary data that we report differ from actual results, or if others, including regulatory authorities, disagree with the conclusions reached, our ability to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates may be harmed, which could harm our business, operating results, prospects or financial condition.

Changes in methods of drug candidate manufacturing or formulation may result in additional costs or delay.

As drug candidates are developed through preclinical studies to late-stage clinical trials towards approval and commercialization, it is common that various aspects of the development program, such as manufacturing methods and formulation, are altered along the way in an effort to optimize processes and results. Such changes carry the risk that they will not achieve these intended objectives, and may also require additional testing, FDA notification or FDA approval.  Any of these changes could cause our drug candidates to perform differently and affect the results of planned clinical trials or other future clinical trials conducted with the altered materials.  This could delay completion of clinical trials, require the conduct of bridging clinical trials or the repetition of one or more clinical trials, increase clinical trial costs, delay approval of our drug candidates and jeopardize our ability to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates.

We may not be successful in our efforts to increase our pipeline of drug candidates, including by in-licensing or acquiring additional drug candidates.

A key element of our strategy is to build and expand our pipeline of drug candidates. To build our pipeline, we may seek to in-license or acquire additional drug candidates. We may not be able to identify or develop drug candidates that are safe, tolerable and effective. Even if we are successful in continuing to build our pipeline, the potential drug candidates that we develop, in-license or acquire may not be suitable for clinical development, including as a result of being shown to have harmful side effects or other characteristics that indicate that they are unlikely to be drugs that will receive marketing approval and achieve market acceptance.

We may expend our limited resources to pursue a particular drug candidate or indication and fail to capitalize on drug candidates or indications that may be more profitable or for which there is a greater likelihood of success.

Because we have limited financial and management resources, we focus on development programs and drug candidates that we identify for specific indications. As such, we are currently primarily focused on the development of ATI-450 as a potential treatment for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis and potentially other immuno-inflammatory diseases and ATI-1777 as a potential treatment for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis.  As a result, we may forego or delay pursuit of opportunities with other drug candidates or for other indications that later prove to have greater commercial potential. Our resource allocation decisions may cause us to fail to capitalize on viable commercial drugs or profitable market opportunities. Our spending on current and future development programs and drug candidates for specific indications may not yield any commercially viable drugs. If we do not accurately evaluate the commercial potential or target market for a particular drug candidate, we may relinquish valuable rights to that drug candidate through partnerships, licensing or other arrangements in cases in which it would have been more advantageous for us to retain sole development and commercialization rights to such drug candidate.

For any of our drug candidates that receive marketing approval, our potential third-party partners may fail to achieve the degree of market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community necessary for commercial success.

For any of our drug candidates that receive marketing approval, our potential third-party partners may fail to gain sufficient market acceptance by physicians, patients, third-party payors and others in the medical community. If such third-party partners fail to obtain an adequate level of acceptance for our drug candidates, we may not earn significant revenue

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and we may not become profitable. The degree of market acceptance of any drug candidate, if approved, will depend on a number of factors, including:

the efficacy, safety and potential advantages compared to alternative treatments;
our potential third-party partners’ ability to offer the products for sale at competitive prices;
the convenience and ease of administration compared to alternative treatments;
the willingness of the target patient population to try new treatments and of physicians to prescribe these treatments;
the ability of our potential third-party partners to retain a sales force;
the strength of our potential third-party partners’ marketing and distribution support;
the availability of third-party payor coverage and adequate reimbursement or the willingness of patients to pay for these products;
the prevalence and severity of any side effects; and
any restrictions on the use of our products together with other medications.

We face substantial competition, which may result in others discovering, developing or commercializing drugs before or more successfully than we do.

The development and commercialization of new drugs is highly competitive. We will face competition with respect to any drug candidates that we may seek to develop or through our potential third-party partners, commercialize, in the future, from many different sources, including major pharmaceutical, biotechnology and specialty pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions and governmental agencies and public and private research institutions.

With respect to ATI-450 as a potential treatment for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, there are several different types of therapies in the rheumatoid arthritis market. Medications for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis currently fall into two categories: drugs that ease symptoms such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and drugs that slow disease activity. Drugs that slow disease activity include corticosteroids and DMARDs. Disease-modifying drugs include conventional DMARDs such as methotrexate, sulfasalazine, leflunomide, hydroxychloroquine, biologic DMARDs (monoclonal antibodies which inhibit targets such as TNF, IL1, IL6 and costimulatory signaling mechanisms), and targeted synthetic DMARDs such as JAK inhibitors. These types of drugs are produced and sold by large pharmaceutical companies, including AbbVie, Amgen, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer, and Roche, among others. In addition, we are aware of a number of companies developing and conducting clinical trials for investigational drug candidates, including biosimilars, that, if approved, could compete with ATI-450, if approved, for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

With respect to ATI-1777 as a potential treatment for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, there are several different types of therapies in the atopic dermatitis market, such as biologics, oral and topical corticosteroids, injectable and oral methotrexate products, oral and topical calcineurin inhibitors, oral mycophenolate products, other JAK inhibitors, other oral antibiotics and antihistamines and phototherapy. There are also several prescription, non-prescription and OTC topical products, including PDE4 inhibitors, utilized to treat atopic dermatitis. These types of drugs are produced and sold by large pharmaceutical companies, including Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Pfizer. In addition, we are aware of a number of companies including large pharmaceutical companies, such as AbbVie, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Incyte, Pfizer and LEO Pharma A/S developing and conducting clinical trials for investigational drug candidates, that, if approved, could compete with ATI-1777, if approved, for the treatment of atopic dermatitis.

The commercial opportunity for our drug candidates, if approved, could be reduced or eliminated if our competitors develop and commercialize drugs that are safer, more effective, have fewer or less severe side effects, are more convenient or are less expensive than a drug that we may develop. Our competitors also may obtain FDA or other regulatory approval for their drugs more rapidly than our potential third-party partners’ may obtain approval for our drug candidates, which could result in our competitors establishing a strong market position before our drug candidates are able to enter the market.

Many of the companies against which we are competing, or against which we may compete in the future, have significantly greater financial resources and expertise in research and development, manufacturing, and preclinical and clinical development than we do. Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries may result in even more resources being concentrated among a smaller number of our competitors. Smaller or early-stage companies

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may also prove to be significant competitors, particularly through collaborative arrangements with large and established companies. These competitors also compete with us in recruiting and retaining qualified scientific and management personnel and establishing clinical trial sites and patient registration for clinical trials, as well as in acquiring technologies complementary to, or that may be necessary for, our development programs.

The success of our drug candidates, if approved, will depend significantly on coverage and adequate reimbursement or the willingness of patients to pay for these products.

We believe the success of our drug candidates, if approved, will depend on obtaining and maintaining coverage and adequate reimbursement as a prescription treatment or in the absence of coverage and adequate reimbursement, on the extent to which patients will be willing to pay out of pocket for these prescription drug products.

Third-party payors determine which prescription drug products they will cover and establish reimbursement levels. Reimbursement by a third-party payor may depend upon a number of factors, including: the third-party payor’s determination that a product is safe, effective, and medically necessary; appropriate for the specific patient; cost-effective; supported by peer-reviewed medical journals or current clinical practice guidelines; and whether there are competitive products, either branded or generic, and the pricing of those products.  Many private third-party payors, such as managed care plans, manage access to drug products’ coverage partly to control costs for their plans, and may use drug formularies and medical policies to limit their exposure.  Obtaining and maintaining favorable reimbursement can be a time-consuming and expensive process, and our potential third-party partners may not be able to negotiate or continue to negotiate reimbursement or pricing terms for our products with third-party payors at levels that are profitable to us, or at all.  

In addition to uncertainties surrounding coverage policies, there are periodic changes to reimbursement.  Third-party payors regularly update reimbursement amounts and also from time to time revise the methodologies used to determine reimbursement amounts.  Accordingly, these updates could impact the demand for our drug candidates, if approved. Our drug candidates, if approved, may not be considered cost effective, and government and third-party private health insurance coverage and reimbursement may not be available to patients or sufficient to allow our potential third-party partners to sell our drug candidates, if approved, on a competitive and profitable basis.  Our results of operations could be adversely affected by the Affordable Care Act and by other health care legislative reforms that may be enacted or adopted in the future.  In addition, increasing emphasis on managed care in the United States will continue to put pressure on the pricing of pharmaceutical products.  Cost control initiatives could decrease the price that our potential third-party partners could receive for any of our drug candidates, if approved, and could adversely affect our profitability.  We cannot predict how pending and future health care legislation will impact our business, and any changes in coverage and reimbursement that further restricts coverage of our drug candidates could harm our business.

Foreign governments also have their own healthcare reimbursement systems, which vary significantly by country and region, and we cannot be sure that coverage and adequate reimbursement will be made available with respect to our drug candidates, if approved, under any foreign reimbursement system.  In some foreign countries, including major markets in the European Union and Japan, the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control.  In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take up to 12 months or longer after the receipt of regulatory marketing approval for a product.  To obtain reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, we may be required to conduct a pharmacoeconomic study that compares the cost-effectiveness of our drug candidate to other available therapies.  Such pharmacoeconomic studies can be costly and the results uncertain.  Our business could be harmed if reimbursement of our drug candidates, if approved, is unavailable or limited in scope or amount or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels.

Product liability lawsuits against us could cause us to incur substantial liabilities and to limit commercialization of any of our drug candidates that we may develop and are commercialized by our potential third-party partners or impact any commercial products that we have previously sold or are being sold by third-party partners.

We face an inherent risk of product liability exposure related to the testing of our drug candidates in human clinical trials and an even greater risk relating to any of our commercial products that we have previously sold or are being sold by third-party partners. If we cannot successfully defend ourselves against claims that our commercial products that

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we have previously sold or are being sold by third-party partners, or drug candidates, caused injuries, we will incur substantial liabilities. Regardless of merit or eventual outcome, product liability claims may result in:

decreased demand for any drug candidates that we may develop and, if approved, are commercialized by our potential third-party partners;
injury to our reputation and significant negative media attention;
withdrawal of clinical trial participants;
significant costs to defend the related litigation;
substantial monetary awards paid to trial participants or patients;
loss of revenue;
reduced resources of our management to pursue our business strategy; and
our inability to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates.

We currently hold $10 million in product liability insurance coverage in the aggregate, with a per incident limit of $10 million, which may not be adequate to cover all liabilities that we may incur. Insurance coverage is increasingly expensive. We may need to increase our insurance coverage and we may not be able to maintain insurance coverage at a reasonable cost or in an amount adequate to satisfy any liability that may arise.

Risks Related to Our Dependence on Third Parties

We rely on third parties to conduct clinical trials for our drug candidates, and those third parties may not perform satisfactorily, including failing to meet deadlines for the completion of such trials.

We engage CROs to conduct clinical trials of our drug candidates. We expect to continue to rely on third parties, such as clinical data management organizations, medical institutions and clinical investigators, to conduct those clinical trials. If any of our relationships with these third parties terminate, we may not be able to timely enter into arrangements with alternative third parties or to do so on commercially reasonable terms, if at all. In addition, any third parties conducting our clinical trials will not be our employees, and except for remedies available to us under our agreements with such third parties, we cannot control whether or not they devote sufficient time and resources to our clinical programs. If these third parties do not successfully carry out their contractual duties or obligations or meet expected deadlines, if they need to be replaced or if the quality or accuracy of the clinical data they obtain is compromised due to the failure to adhere to our clinical protocols, regulatory requirements or for other reasons, our clinical trials may be extended, delayed or terminated and we may not be able to identify and  consummate transactions with third-party partners to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates. Consequently, our results of operations and the commercial prospects for our drug candidates would be harmed, our costs could increase substantially and our ability to earn revenue from those partnerships could be delayed significantly.

Switching or adding CROs involves substantial cost and requires management time and focus. In addition, there is a natural transition period when a new CRO commences work. As a result, delays occur, which can materially impact our ability to meet our desired clinical development timelines. Though we intend to carefully manage our relationships with our CROs, there can be no assurance that we will not encounter challenges or delays in the future or that these delays or challenges will not have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and prospects.

We rely on these parties for execution of our preclinical studies and clinical trials, and generally do not control their activities. Our reliance on these third parties for research and development activities will reduce our control over these activities but will not relieve us of our responsibilities. For example, we will remain responsible for ensuring that each of our clinical trials is conducted in accordance with the general investigational plan and protocols for the trial. Moreover, the FDA requires us to comply with standards, commonly referred to as good clinical practices, or GCPs, for conducting, recording and reporting the results of clinical trials to assure that data and reported results are credible and accurate and that the rights, integrity and confidentiality of trial participants are protected. We also are required to register ongoing clinical trials and post the results of completed clinical trials on a government-sponsored database, ClinicalTrials.gov, within specified timeframes. Failure to do so can result in fines, adverse publicity and civil and criminal sanctions. If we or any of our CROs fail to comply with applicable GCPs, the clinical data generated in our clinical trials may be deemed unreliable and the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities may require us to perform additional clinical trials before approving marketing applications. We cannot assure you that upon inspection by a given regulatory

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authority, such regulatory authority will determine that any of our clinical trials complies with GCP regulations. In addition, our clinical trials must be conducted with drug product produced under cGMP regulations. Our failure to comply with these regulations may require us to repeat clinical trials, which would delay the marketing approval process for our potential third-party partners.

We also rely on other third parties to store and distribute drug supplies for our clinical trials. Any performance failure on the part of our distributors could delay clinical development or marketing approval of our drug candidates or commercialization of our drug candidates, if approved, producing additional losses and depriving us of potential revenue.

We contract with third parties for the manufacture and supply of our drug candidates for preclinical and clinical testing. This reliance on third parties increases the risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of our drug candidates or such quantities at an acceptable cost, which could delay, prevent or impair our development efforts.

We do not have any manufacturing facilities. We currently rely, and expect to continue to rely, on third parties for the manufacture and supply of our drug candidates for preclinical and clinical testing. This reliance on third parties increases the risk that we will not have sufficient quantities of our drug candidates at an acceptable cost and/or quality, which could delay, prevent or impair our ability to timely conduct our clinical trials or our other development efforts.

The facilities used by our contract manufacturers to manufacture our drug candidates must be approved by the FDA or comparable foreign regulatory authorities pursuant to inspections that will be conducted after the NDA or comparable marketing application is submitted to the FDA or other regulatory authority. We do not have control over a supplier’s or manufacturer’s compliance with laws, regulations and applicable cGMP standards and other laws and regulations, such as those related to environmental health and safety matters. If our contract manufacturers cannot successfully manufacture material that conforms to our specifications and the strict regulatory requirements of the FDA or others, they will not be able to secure and maintain regulatory approval for their manufacturing facilities. In addition, we have no control over the ability of our contract manufacturers to maintain adequate quality control, quality assurance and qualified personnel. If the FDA or a comparable foreign regulatory authority does not approve these facilities for the manufacture of our drug candidates or if it withdraws any such approval in the future, we may need to find alternative manufacturing facilities, which could significantly impact our ability to develop, and identify and consummate transactions with third-party partners to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize, our drug candidates.

We may be unable to establish any agreements with future third-party manufacturers or do so on acceptable terms. Even if we are able to establish agreements with third-party manufacturers, reliance on third-party manufacturers entails additional risks, including:

reliance on the third party for regulatory compliance and quality assurance;
the possible breach of the manufacturing agreement by the third party;
the possible misappropriation of our proprietary information, including our trade secrets and know-how;
the possible increase in costs by our third-party suppliers for the active pharmaceutical ingredients for our drug candidates; and
the possible termination or nonrenewal of the agreement by the third party at a time that is costly or inconvenient for us.

Third-party manufacturers may not be able to comply with cGMP regulations or similar regulatory requirements outside the United States. Our failure, or the failure of our third-party manufacturers, to comply with applicable regulations could result in sanctions being imposed on us, including clinical holds, fines, injunctions, civil penalties, delays, suspension or withdrawal of approvals, license revocation, seizures or recalls of products, operating restrictions and criminal prosecutions, any of which could significantly and adversely affect supplies of our drug candidates. 

Our drug candidates may compete with other products and drug candidates for access to manufacturing facilities. There are a limited number of manufacturers that operate under cGMP regulations and that might be capable of manufacturing for us. Any performance failure on the part of our existing or future manufacturers could delay clinical development or marketing approval of our drug candidates.

If our current contract manufacturers cannot perform as agreed, we may be required to replace such manufacturers. We may incur added costs and delays in identifying and qualifying any such replacement. We do not

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currently have arrangements in place for redundant supply or a second source for the active pharmaceutical ingredients and/or drug product for our drug candidates.

We expect to continue to depend on third-party contract manufacturers for the foreseeable future. Our current and anticipated future dependence upon others for the manufacture of our drug candidates may adversely affect our future profit margins and our ability to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates on a timely and competitive basis.

We intend to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates. If those arrangements are not successful, we may not be able to capitalize on the market potential of these drug candidates.

We intend to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates. Our likely partners for any such arrangements include large and mid-size pharmaceutical companies, regional and national pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies. If we do enter into any such arrangements with any third parties, we will likely have limited control over the amount and timing of resources that our partners dedicate to the development or commercialization of our drug candidates. Our ability to earn revenue from these arrangements will depend on our partners’ abilities to successfully perform the functions assigned to them in these arrangements.

Partnerships involving our drug candidates would pose the following risks to us:

partners have significant discretion in determining the efforts and resources that they will apply to these arrangements;
partners may not perform their obligations as expected;
partners may not pursue development, marketing approval or commercialization of any drug candidates that achieve marketing approval or may elect not to continue or renew development or commercialization programs based on clinical trial results, changes in the partners’ strategic focus or available funding, or external factors, such as an acquisition, that divert resources or create competing priorities;
partners may delay clinical trials, provide insufficient funding for a clinical trial program, stop a clinical trial or abandon a drug candidate, repeat or conduct new clinical trials or require a new formulation of a drug candidate for clinical testing;
partners could independently develop, or develop with third parties, products that compete directly or indirectly with our drug candidates if the partners believe that competitive products are more likely to be successfully developed or can be commercialized under terms that are more economically attractive than ours;
drug candidates discovered in collaboration with us may be viewed by our collaborators as competitive with their own products or drug candidates, which may cause our partners to cease to devote resources to the development and/or commercialization of our drug candidates, if approved;
a partner with marketing and distribution rights to one or more of our drug candidates that achieve marketing approval may not commit sufficient resources to the marketing and distribution of such drug candidates;
disagreements with partners, including disagreements over proprietary rights, contract interpretation or the preferred course of development or commercialization, might cause delays or termination of the research, development or commercialization of drug candidates, might lead to additional responsibilities for us with respect to drug candidates, or might result in litigation or arbitration, any of which would be time-consuming and expensive;
partners may not properly maintain or defend our or their intellectual property rights or may use our or their proprietary information in such a way as to invite litigation that could jeopardize or invalidate such intellectual property or proprietary information or expose us to potential litigation;
partners may infringe the intellectual property rights of third parties, which may expose us to litigation and potential liability; and
partnerships may be terminated for the convenience of the partner and, if terminated, we could be required to raise additional capital to pursue further development and/or commercialization of the applicable drug candidates.

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Partnership agreements may not lead to development, marketing approval or commercialization of drug candidates in the most efficient manner or at all. If a present or future partner of ours were to be involved in a business combination, the continued pursuit and emphasis on our drug development or commercialization program could be delayed, diminished or terminated. 

If we are not able to establish partnerships, we may have to alter our development and commercialization plans.

Our drug development programs for our drug candidates will require substantial additional capital. We intend to partner with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for the further development and/or commercialization of our drug candidates.

We face significant competition in seeking appropriate partners. Whether we reach a definitive agreement for a partnership will depend, among other things, upon our assessment of the partner’s resources and expertise, the terms and conditions of the proposed arrangement and the proposed partner’s evaluation of a number of factors. Those factors may include the design or results of clinical trials, the likelihood of approval by the FDA or similar regulatory authorities outside the United States, the potential market for the subject drug candidate, the costs and complexities of manufacturing and delivering such drug candidate to patients, the potential of competing products, the existence of uncertainty with respect to our ownership of technology, which can exist if there is a challenge to such ownership without regard to the merits of the challenge, and industry and market conditions generally. The partner may also consider alternative drug candidates or technologies for similar indications that may be available to partner on and whether such a partnership could be more attractive than the one with us for our drug candidate. Partnerships are complex and time-consuming to negotiate and document. In addition, there have been a significant number of recent business combinations among large pharmaceutical companies that have resulted in a reduced number of potential future partners.

We may not be able to negotiate partnerships on a timely basis, on acceptable terms, or at all. If we are unable to do so, we may have to curtail the development of such drug candidate, or reduce or delay its development program or one or more of our other development programs, or increase our expenditures and undertake development or commercialization activities at our own expense. If we elect to increase our expenditures to fund development or commercialization activities on our own, we may need to obtain additional capital, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all. If we do not have sufficient funds, we may not be able to further develop our drug candidates or bring them to market and generate revenue.

We may not have access to all information regarding our drug candidates that are subject to partnership agreements. Consequently, our ability to inform our stockholders about the status of our drug candidates that are subject to these agreements, and our ability to make business and operational decisions, may be limited.

We may not have access to all information regarding our drug candidates that may become subject to agreements with partners, including potentially material information about clinical trial design, execution and timing, safety and efficacy, clinical trial results, regulatory affairs, manufacturing, marketing, sales and other areas known by our potential partners. In addition, we may have confidentiality obligations under our agreements with such partners. Therefore, our ability to keep our stockholders informed about the status of our drug candidates will be limited by the degree to which our partners keep us informed and by the degree to which our partners allow us to disclose information to the public or provide such information to the public themselves. If our partners do not timely inform us about the status of our drug candidates that are the subject of the partnership, we may make operational and investment decisions that we would not have made had we been fully informed, which may have an adverse impact on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

Our sublease could terminate if the master lease is terminated for any reason, thus terminating our rights to our corporate headquarters.

We sublease space for our corporate headquarters.  While the term of the sublease extends until October 2023, if for any reason the master lease is terminated or expires prior to October 2023, our sublease will also automatically terminate.  In such an event, we would need to obtain a new direct lease with the master landlord or negotiate and enter into a new lease for office space at a different location, which we may not be able to do on commercially reasonable terms, if at all.

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Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property

If we are unable to obtain and maintain patent protection for our drug candidates, or if the scope of the patent protection obtained is not sufficiently broad, our competitors could develop and commercialize technology and drugs similar or identical to ours, and ability to successfully identify a potential third-party partner to commercialize our technology and drug candidates may be impaired.

Our success depends in large part on our ability to obtain and maintain patent protection in the United States and other countries with respect to our drug candidates. We seek to protect our proprietary position by filing patent applications in the United States and abroad related to our drug candidates. 

The patent prosecution process is expensive and time-consuming, however, and we may not be able to file and prosecute all necessary or desirable patent applications at a reasonable cost or in a timely manner. It is also possible that we will fail to identify patentable aspects of our development output before it is too late to obtain patent protection. We may not have the right to control the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications, or to maintain the rights to patents licensed to third parties. Therefore, these patents and applications may not be prosecuted and enforced in a manner consistent with the best interests of our business.

The patent position of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies generally is highly uncertain, involves complex legal and factual questions and has in recent years been the subject of much litigation. In addition, the laws of foreign countries may not protect our rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States or vice versa. For example, European patent law restricts the patentability of methods of treatment of the human body more than U.S. law does. Publications of discoveries in the scientific literature often lag behind the actual discoveries, and patent applications in the United States and other jurisdictions are typically not published until 18 months after filing, or in some cases not at all. Therefore, we cannot know with certainty whether we or our licensors were the first to make the inventions claimed in our patents or pending patent applications, or that we or our licensors were the first to file for patent protection of such inventions. As a result, the issuance, scope, validity, enforceability and commercial value of our patent rights are highly uncertain. Our pending and future patent applications may not result in patents being issued that protect our technology or drug candidates, in whole or in part, or which effectively prevent others from commercializing competitive technologies and drug candidates. Changes in either the patent laws or interpretation of the patent laws in the United States and other countries may diminish the value of our patents or narrow the scope of our patent protection.

Moreover, we may be subject to a third-party preissuance submission of prior art to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, or become involved in opposition, derivation, reexamination, inter partes review, post-grant review or interference proceedings challenging our patent rights or the patent rights of others. An adverse determination in any such submission, proceeding or litigation could reduce the scope of, or invalidate, our patent rights, allow third parties to commercialize our technology or drug candidates and compete directly with us, without payment to us, or result in the inability of our potential third-party partners to manufacture or commercialize our drug candidates without infringing third-party patent rights. In addition, if the breadth or strength of protection provided by our patents and patent applications that we own or license is threatened, it could dissuade companies from partnering with us to license, develop and/or commercialize our drug candidates. 

Even if our patent applications that we own or license issue as patents, they may not issue in a form that will provide us with any meaningful protection, prevent competitors from competing with us or our potential third-party partners or otherwise provide us or our potential third-party partners with any competitive advantage. Competitors may be able to circumvent our patents by developing similar or alternative technologies or drugs in a non-infringing manner.

In addition, the issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its inventorship, scope, validity or enforceability, and our patents may be challenged in the courts or patent offices in the United States and abroad. Such challenges may result in loss of exclusivity or freedom to operate or in patent claims being narrowed, invalidated or held unenforceable, in whole or in part, which could limit the ability to stop others from using or commercializing similar or identical technology and drug candidates, or limit the duration of the patent protection of our technology and drug candidates. Our issued U.S. patents covering our lead inhibitor of the MK2 signaling pathway, ATI-450, expire in 2034 and other issued patents covering different MK2 signaling pathway inhibitors expire in 2031 and 2032. We currently do not have any patents issued directed to our lead “soft” JAK inhibitor, ATI-1777, but any claims that may issue would expire in 2038. Our issued patent covering other novel “soft” JAK inhibitors expires in 2038.  We currently do not have any patents issued directed to our lead ITK inhibitor, ATI-2138, but any claims that may issue would expire in 2039.  Our issued patents covering other

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novel inhibitors of ITK expire between 2035 and 2038. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new drug candidates, patents protecting such candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates are commercialized. As a result, our patent portfolio may not provide us or our potential third-party partners with sufficient rights to exclude others from commercializing drugs similar or identical to ours.

We may become involved in lawsuits to protect or enforce our patents or other intellectual property, which could be expensive, time-consuming and unsuccessful. Further, our issued patents could be found invalid or unenforceable if challenged in court.

Competitors may infringe our issued patents or other intellectual property. Our pending applications cannot be enforced against third parties practicing the technology claimed in such applications unless and until a patent issues from such applications. To counter infringement or unauthorized use, we may be required to file infringement claims, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Any claims we assert against perceived infringers could provoke these parties to assert counterclaims against us alleging that we infringe their patents or that our patents are invalid or unenforceable. Grounds for a validity challenge could be an alleged failure to meet any of several statutory requirements, including lack of novelty, obviousness, non-enablement or insufficient written description. Grounds for an unenforceability assertion could be an allegation that someone connected with prosecution of the patent withheld relevant information from the USPTO or made a misleading statement during prosecution. Third parties may also raise similar claims before the USPTO, in post-grant proceedings such as ex parte reexaminations, inter partes review, or post-grant review, or oppositions or similar administrative proceedings outside the United States, in parallel with litigation or, even outside the context of litigation. The outcome following legal assertions of invalidity and unenforceability is unpredictable. With respect to the validity question, for example, we cannot be certain that there is no invalidating prior art of which we and the patent examiner were unaware during prosecution. If a defendant were to prevail on a legal assertion of invalidity or unenforceability, we would lose at least part, and perhaps all, of the patent protection on our drug candidates. Such a loss of patent protection would harm our business. 

In such a proceeding, a court or administrative board may decide that a patent of ours is invalid or unenforceable, in whole or in part, construe the patent’s claims narrowly or refuse to stop the other party from using the technology at issue on the grounds that our patents do not cover the technology. An adverse result in any such proceeding could put one or more of our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly. We may find it impractical or undesirable to enforce our intellectual property against some third parties. 

Interference proceedings provoked by third parties or brought by us or declared by the USPTO may be necessary to determine the priority of inventions with respect to our patents or patent applications. An unfavorable outcome could require us to cease using the related technology or to attempt to license rights to it from the prevailing party. Our business could be harmed if the prevailing party does not offer us a license on commercially reasonable terms. 

Furthermore, because of the substantial amount of discovery required in connection with intellectual property litigation, there is a risk that some of our confidential information could be compromised by disclosure during this type of litigation.

We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights throughout the world.

Filing, prosecuting and defending patents on our drug candidates in all countries throughout the world would be prohibitively expensive, and our intellectual property rights in some countries outside the United States can be less extensive than those in the United States. For example, our lead inhibitor of the MK2 signaling pathway, ATI-450, is currently covered by patents and applications in the United States, European Union and other foreign markets.  We currently do not have any patents issued directed to our lead “soft” JAK inhibitor, ATI-1777, or our lead ITK inhibitor, ATI-2138, rather we have pending applications in the United States, European Union and other foreign markets directed to each of ATI-1777 and ATI-2138.

Many companies have encountered significant problems in protecting and defending intellectual property rights in foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of some countries do not favor the enforcement of patents and other intellectual property protection, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement of our patents generally. Proceedings to enforce our patent rights in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business, could put our patents at risk of being invalidated or interpreted narrowly and our patent

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applications at risk of not issuing and could provoke third parties to assert claims against us. We may not prevail in any lawsuits that we initiate, and the damages or other remedies awarded, if any, may not be commercially meaningful. 

Many countries, including European Union countries, India, Japan and China, have compulsory licensing laws under which a patent owner may be compelled under specified circumstances to grant licenses to third parties. In those countries, we may have limited remedies if patents are infringed or if we are compelled to grant a license to a third party, which could materially diminish the value of those patents. This could limit our ability to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with potential third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates, and consequently our potential revenue opportunities. Accordingly, our efforts to enforce our intellectual property rights around the world may be inadequate to obtain a significant commercial advantage from the intellectual property that we develop or license.

We may need to license intellectual property from third parties, and such licenses may not be available or may not be available on commercially reasonable terms.

A third party may hold intellectual property, including patent rights, that are important or necessary to the development and/or commercialization of our drug candidates. It may be necessary for our potential third-party partners to use the patented or proprietary technology of third parties to further develop and/or commercialize our drug candidates. If our potential third-party partners are not able to obtain a license from these third parties on commercially reasonable terms, our business could be harmed, possibly materially, and even if they are able to, it may result in the reduction of revenue we earn from such partner as a result of payment obligations such partner has to the licensor. 

Third parties may initiate legal proceedings alleging that we are infringing their intellectual property rights, the outcome of which would be uncertain and could have a material adverse effect on the success of our business.

Our success depends upon our ability to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with potential third-party partners, to develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates and earn revenue from those partnerships, and for our proprietary technologies to be used without infringing the proprietary rights of third parties. There is considerable intellectual property litigation in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. We may become party to, or threatened with, future adversarial proceedings or litigation regarding intellectual property rights with respect to our drug candidates and technologies, including interference or derivation proceedings before the USPTO. Numerous U.S. and foreign issued patents and pending patent applications owned by third parties exist in the fields in which we are developing our drug candidates. Third parties may assert infringement claims against us based on existing patents or patents that may be granted in the future.

If we or our potential third-party partners are found to infringe a third party’s intellectual property rights, we or such partners could be required to obtain a license from such third party to continue developing or commercializing our drug candidates and technology. However, we or our potential third-party partners may not be able to obtain any required license on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Even if we or our potential third-party partner were able to obtain a license, it could be non-exclusive, thereby giving competitors access to the same technologies licensed to us or our partner. Consequently, we or our potential third-party partner could be forced, including by court order, to cease developing or commercializing the infringing technology or drug candidate. In addition, we or our potential third-party partner could be found liable for monetary damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees if we or such partner are found to have willfully infringed a patent. A finding of infringement could prevent our potential third-party partners from commercializing our drug candidates, if approved, or force such partners to cease some of their business operations. In the event of a successful claim of infringement against us or our potential third-party partners, we or our potential third-party partners may have to pay substantial damages, including treble damages and attorneys’ fees for willful infringement, pay royalties, redesign our infringing drug candidate or obtain one or more licenses from third parties, which may be impossible or require substantial time and monetary expenditure. Claims that we have misappropriated the confidential information or trade secrets of third parties could have a similar negative impact on our business.

We may be subject to claims by third parties asserting that we, our employees or our licensors have misappropriated their intellectual property, or claiming ownership of what we regard as our own intellectual property.

Many of our employees and our licensors’ employees were previously employed at other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies. Although we and our licensors try to ensure that our employees and our licensors’ employees do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we or our licensors may be subject to

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claims that these employees, our licensors or we have used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of any such employee’s former employer. Litigation may be necessary to defend against these claims. 

In addition, while it is our policy to require our employees and contractors who may be involved in the development of intellectual property to execute agreements assigning such intellectual property to us, we may be unsuccessful in executing such an agreement with each party who in fact develops intellectual property that we regard as our own. Our and their assignment agreements may not be self-executing or may be breached, and we may be forced to bring claims against third parties, or defend claims they may bring against us, to determine the ownership of what we regard as our intellectual property.

If we or our licensors fail in prosecuting or defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable intellectual property rights or personnel. Even if we and our licensors are successful in prosecuting or defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management. 

Intellectual property litigation could cause us to spend substantial resources and distract our personnel from their normal responsibilities.

Even if resolved in our favor, litigation or other legal proceedings relating to intellectual property claims may cause us to incur significant expenses, and could distract our technical and management personnel from their normal responsibilities. In addition, there could be public announcements of the results of hearings, motions or other interim proceedings or developments and if securities analysts or investors perceive these results to be negative, it could have a substantial adverse effect on the price of our common stock. Such litigation or proceedings could substantially increase our operating losses and reduce the resources available for development activities. We may not have sufficient financial or other resources to conduct such litigation or proceedings adequately. Some of our competitors may be able to sustain the costs of such litigation or proceedings more effectively than we can because of their greater financial resources. Some of our competitors are larger than we are and have substantially greater resources. They are, therefore, likely to be able to sustain the costs of complex patent litigation longer than we could. Accordingly, despite our efforts, we may not be able to prevent third parties from infringing upon or misappropriating our intellectual property. Litigation could result in substantial costs and diversion of management resources, which could harm our business. In addition, the uncertainties associated with litigation could compromise our ability to compete in the marketplace, including compromising our ability to raise the funds necessary to continue our clinical trials, continue our internal research programs, or pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates.

If we are unable to protect the confidentiality of our trade secrets, our business and competitive position would be harmed.

In addition to seeking and maintaining patents for our drug candidates, we also rely on trade secrets, including unpatented know-how, technology and other proprietary information, to maintain our competitive position. We seek to protect our trade secrets, in part, by entering into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with parties who have access to them, such as our employees, corporate collaborators, outside scientific collaborators, contract manufacturers, consultants, advisors and other third parties. We also enter into confidentiality and invention or patent assignment agreements with our employees and consultants. Despite these efforts, any of these parties may breach the agreements and disclose our proprietary information, including our trade secrets, and we may not be able to obtain adequate remedies for such breaches. Enforcing a claim that a party illegally disclosed or misappropriated a trade secret is difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and the outcome is unpredictable. In addition, some courts inside and outside the United States are less willing or unwilling to protect trade secrets. If any of our trade secrets were to be lawfully obtained or independently developed by a competitor, we would have no right to prevent them, or those to whom they communicate it, from using that technology or information to compete with us. If any of our trade secrets were to be disclosed to or independently developed by a competitor, our competitive position would be harmed. 

The validity, scope and enforceability of any of our patents that cover any of our commercial products or any of our drug candidates can be challenged by competitors.

The likelihood that a third party will challenge the patents covering a commercial product is increased because it is a marketed product. The challenge may come in the form of a patent office proceeding, such as an inter partes review,

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challenging the validity of the patents or a district court proceeding, such as a paragraph IV litigation arising out of the filing of an ANDA.

If a third party files an ANDA or 505(b)(2) application for a generic of a commercial product, and relies in whole or in part on studies conducted by or for us, the third party will be required to certify to the FDA that either: (1) there is no patent information listed in the FDA’s Orange Book with respect to our NDA for the applicable approved drug; (2) the patents listed in the Orange Book have expired; (3) the listed patents have not expired, but will expire on a particular date and approval is sought after patent expiration; or (4) the listed patents are invalid or will not be infringed by the manufacture, use or sale of the third party's generic drug. A certification that the new drug will not infringe the Orange Book-listed patents for the applicable approved drug, or that such patents are invalid, is called a paragraph IV certification. If the third party submits a paragraph IV certification to the FDA, a notice of the paragraph IV certification must also be sent to us once the third party’s ANDA is accepted for filing by the FDA. We may then initiate a lawsuit to defend the patents identified in the notice. The filing of a patent infringement lawsuit within 45 days of receipt of the notice automatically prevents the FDA from approving the third party’s ANDA until the earliest of 30 months or the date on which the patent expires, the lawsuit is settled, or the court reaches a decision in the infringement lawsuit in favor of the third party. If we do not file a patent infringement lawsuit within the required 45-day period, the third party’s ANDA will not be subject to the 30-month stay of FDA approval. Litigation or other proceedings to enforce or defend intellectual property rights are often very complex in nature, may be very expensive and time-consuming, may divert our management's attention from our core business, and may result in unfavorable results that could limit our ability to prevent third parties from competing with our commercial products. 

If any of our drug candidates advance through development or are approved by the FDA, one or more third parties may challenge the current patents, or patents that may issue in the future, within our portfolio covering these drug candidates. Any such challenge could result in the invalidation of, or render unenforceable, some or all of the relevant patent claims or a finding of non-infringement, which would harm our ability to pursue strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug candidates, and earn revenue from such arrangements. In addition, any such challenge on any divested product could harm our ability to earn revenue from the arrangements for such product. 

If we do not obtain protection under the Hatch-Waxman Act by extending the patent term and obtaining data exclusivity for our drug candidates, our business may be materially harmed.

Our success will largely depend on our ability to obtain and maintain patent and other intellectual property in the United States and other countries with respect to our proprietary technology, drug candidates and our target indications.  Our issued U.S. patents covering ATI-450, our lead inhibitor of the MK2 signaling pathway, expire in 2034, and other issued patents covering different MK2 signaling pathway inhibitors expire in 2031 and 2032. We currently do not have any patents issued directed to our lead “soft” JAK inhibitor, ATI-1777, but any claims that may issue would expire in 2038. Our issued patent covering other novel “soft” JAK inhibitors expires 2038.  We currently do not have any patents issued directed to our lead ITK inhibitor, ATI-2138, but any claims that may issue would expire in 2039.  Our issued patents covering other novel inhibitors of ITK expire between 2035 and 2038. Given the amount of time required for the development, testing and regulatory review of new drug candidates, patents protecting our drug candidates might expire before or shortly after such candidates begin to be commercialized. We expect to seek extensions of patent terms in the United States and, if available, in other countries where we are prosecuting patents.

Depending upon the timing, duration and specifics of FDA marketing approval of our drug candidates, one or more of our U.S. patents may be eligible for limited patent term extension under The Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, or the Hatch-Waxman Act, for a drug candidate. The Hatch-Waxman Act permits a patent extension term of up to five years beyond the normal expiration of the patent as compensation for patent term lost during development and the FDA regulatory review process, which is limited to the approved indication (or any additional indications approved during the period of extension). However, the total patent term including the period of extension cannot exceed 14 years from the product’s approval date.  Furthermore, this extension is limited to only one patent per regulatory review period that covers the approved product. However, the applicable authorities, including the FDA and the USPTO in the United States, and any equivalent regulatory authority in other countries, may not agree with our assessment of whether such extensions are available, and may refuse to grant extensions to our patents, or may grant more limited extensions than we request. We may not be granted an extension because of, for example, failing to apply within

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applicable deadlines, failing to apply prior to expiration of relevant patents or otherwise failing to satisfy applicable requirements. Moreover, the applicable time period or the scope of patent protection afforded could be less than we request.

If we are unable to extend the expiration date of our existing patents or obtain new patents with longer expiry dates, our competitors may be able to take advantage of our investment in development and clinical trials by referencing our clinical and preclinical data to obtain approval of competing products following our patent expiration and launch their product earlier than might otherwise be the case.

Any trademarks we have obtained or may obtain may be infringed or successfully challenged, resulting in harm to our business.

We expect to rely on trademarks as one means to distinguish our products, services or technologies from those of our competitors. Once we select new trademarks and apply to register them, our trademark applications may not be approved. Third parties may oppose or attempt to cancel our trademark applications or trademarks, or otherwise challenge our use of the trademarks. In such an event, we may need to negotiate a settlement agreement with such third party over the use of our trademarks, which we may not be able to do on commercially reasonable terms, if at all. In the event that our trademarks are successfully challenged, our products, services or technologies may need to be rebranded, which could result in loss of brand recognition and could require us to devote resources to advertising and marketing new brands. Our competitors may infringe our trademarks and we may not have adequate resources to enforce our trademarks.

Outside of the United States we cannot be certain that any country’s patent or trademark office will not implement new rules that could seriously affect how we draft, file, prosecute and maintain patents, trademarks and patent and trademark applications.

We cannot be certain that the patent or trademark offices of countries outside the United States will not implement new rules that increase costs for drafting, filing, prosecuting and maintaining patents, trademarks and patent and trademark applications or that any such new rules will not restrict our ability to file for patent protection. For example, we may elect not to seek patent protection in some jurisdictions or for some drug candidates in order to save costs. We may be forced to abandon or return the rights to specific patents due to a lack of financial resources.

Intellectual property rights do not necessarily address all potential threats to our competitive advantage.

The degree of future protection afforded by our intellectual property rights is uncertain because intellectual property rights have limitations, and may not adequately protect our business, or permit us to maintain our competitive advantage. The following examples are illustrative:

we, our licensors or any potential third-party partners might not have been the first to make the inventions covered by the issued patents or pending patent applications that we own;
we, our licensors or any potential third-party partners might not have been the first to file patent applications covering certain of our inventions;
others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate any of our technologies without infringing our intellectual property rights;
it is possible that our pending patent applications will not lead to issued patents;
issued patents that we own or exclusively license may not provide us with any competitive advantages, or may be held invalid or unenforceable as a result of legal challenges;
our competitors might conduct research and development activities in the United States and other countries that provide a safe harbor from patent infringement claims for certain research and development activities, as well as in countries where we do not have patent rights, and then use the information learned from such activities to develop competitive products for sale in major commercial markets; and
we may not develop additional proprietary technologies that are patentable.

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Risks Related to Regulatory Approval of Our Drug Candidates and Other Legal Compliance Matters

If our potential third-party partners are not able to obtain, or if there are delays in obtaining, required regulatory approvals, our drug candidates will not be able to be commercialized, and our ability to earn revenue from arrangements with such third-party partners will be materially impaired.

Our drug candidates and the activities associated with their development and commercialization, including their design, testing, manufacture, safety, efficacy, recordkeeping, labeling, storage, approval, advertising, promotion, sale and distribution, are subject to comprehensive regulation by the FDA, other regulatory agencies in the United States and similar regulatory authorities outside the United States. Failure to obtain marketing approval for a drug candidate will prevent our potential third-party partners from commercializing the drug candidate. We have only limited experience in filing and supporting the applications necessary to gain marketing approvals. Securing marketing approval requires the submission of extensive preclinical and clinical data and supporting information to regulatory authorities for each therapeutic indication to establish the drug candidate’s safety and efficacy. Securing marketing approval also requires the submission of information about the drug manufacturing process to, and inspection of manufacturing facilities by, the regulatory authorities. Our drug candidates may not be effective, may be only moderately effective or may prove to have undesirable or unintended side effects, toxicities or other characteristics that may preclude our potential third-party partners from obtaining marketing approval or prevent or limit commercial use. If any of our drug candidates receive marketing approval, the accompanying label may limit the approved use of our product in this way, which could limit sales of the product. 

The process of obtaining marketing approvals, both in the United States and abroad, is expensive and may take many years if additional clinical trials are required, if approval is obtained at all, and can vary substantially based upon a variety of factors, including the type, complexity and novelty of the drug candidates involved. Changes in marketing approval policies during the development period, changes in or the enactment of additional statutes or regulations, or changes in regulatory review for each submitted drug application, may cause delays in the approval or rejection of an application. Regulatory authorities have substantial discretion in the approval process and may refuse to accept any application or may decide that our data is insufficient for approval and require additional preclinical, clinical or other studies. In addition, varying interpretations of the data obtained from preclinical and clinical testing could delay, limit or prevent marketing approval of a drug candidate. Any marketing approval our potential third-party partners ultimately obtain may be limited or subject to restrictions or post-approval commitments that render the approved drug not commercially viable.

If our potential third-party partners experience delays in obtaining approval or if they fail to obtain approval of our drug candidates, the commercial prospects for our drug candidates may be harmed and our ability to earn revenue from arrangements with such third-party partners will be materially impaired.

Failure to obtain marketing approval in international jurisdictions would prevent our drug candidates from being marketed abroad.

In order to market and sell our drugs in the European Union and any other jurisdictions outside the United States, our potential third-party partners must obtain separate marketing approvals and comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements. The approval procedure varies among countries and can involve additional testing. The time required to obtain approval may differ substantially from that required to obtain FDA approval. The regulatory approval process outside the United States generally includes all of the risks associated with obtaining FDA approval. In addition, in many countries outside the United States, it is required that the drug be approved for reimbursement before the drug can be approved for sale in that country. Our potential third-party partners may not obtain approvals from regulatory authorities outside the United States on a timely basis, if at all. Approval by the FDA does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions, and approval by one regulatory authority outside the United States does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries or jurisdictions or by the FDA. However, failure to obtain approval in one jurisdiction may impact our potential third-party partners’ ability to obtain approval elsewhere. Our potential third-party partners may not be able to file for marketing approvals and may not receive necessary approvals to commercialize our drug candidates in any market.

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A variety of risks associated with marketing our drug candidates by our potential third-party partners internationally could harm our business.

If our drug candidates, if approved, are marketed internationally by our potential third-party partners, our potential third-party partners would be subject to additional risks related to operating in foreign countries, including:

differing regulatory requirements in foreign countries;
the potential for so-called parallel importing, which is what happens when a local seller, faced with high or higher local prices, opts to import goods from a foreign market (with low or lower prices) rather than buying them locally;
unexpected changes in tariffs, trade barriers, price and exchange controls and other regulatory requirements;
economic weakness, including inflation, or political instability in particular foreign economies and markets;
foreign reimbursement, pricing and insurance regimes;
compliance with tax, employment, immigration and labor laws for employees living or traveling abroad;
foreign taxes, including withholding of payroll taxes;
foreign currency fluctuations, which could result in increased operating expenses and reduced revenue, and other obligations incident to doing business in another country;
difficulties staffing and managing foreign operations;
workforce uncertainty in countries where labor unrest is more common than in the United States;
potential liability under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, or the FCPA, or comparable foreign regulations;
challenges enforcing contractual and intellectual property rights, especially in those foreign countries that do not respect and protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the United States;
production shortages resulting from any events affecting raw material supply or manufacturing capabilities abroad;
logistical challenges resulting from distributing our drug candidates to foreign countries; and
business interruptions resulting from geo-political actions, including war and terrorism.

These and other risks associated with international operations may compromise our ability to earn revenue from arrangements with potential third-party partners for our drug candidates.

Any drug candidate for which our potential third-party partners obtain marketing approval could be subject to post-marketing restrictions or recall or withdrawal from the market, and our potential third-party partners may be subject to penalties if they fail to comply with regulatory requirements or if they experience unanticipated problems with our drug candidates, when and if any of them are approved.

Any drug candidate for which our potential third-party partners obtain marketing approval, along with the manufacturing processes, post-approval clinical data, labeling, advertising and promotional activities for such drug candidate, will be subject to continual requirements of and review by the FDA and other regulatory authorities. These requirements include submissions of safety and other post-marketing information and reports, registration and listing requirements, cGMP requirements relating to manufacturing, quality control, quality assurance and corresponding maintenance of records and documents, requirements regarding the distribution of samples to physicians and recordkeeping. Even if marketing approval of a drug candidate is granted, the approval may be subject to limitations on the indicated uses for which the drug candidate may be marketed or to the conditions of approval, including the requirement to implement a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy. If any of our drug candidates receives marketing approval, the accompanying label may limit the approved use of our drug, which could limit sales of the drug by our potential third-party partners.

The FDA may also impose requirements for costly post-marketing studies or clinical trials and surveillance to monitor the safety or efficacy of the drug. The FDA closely regulates the post-approval marketing and promotion of drugs to ensure drugs are marketed only for the approved indications and in accordance with the provisions of the approved labeling. The FDA imposes stringent restrictions on manufacturers’ communications regarding off-label use and if our potential third-party partners do not market our drugs for their approved indications, they may be subject to enforcement action for off-label marketing. Physicians, on the other hand, may prescribe products for off-label uses. Although the FDA and other regulatory agencies do not regulate a physician’s choice of drug treatment made in the physician’s independent medical judgment, they do restrict promotional communications from companies or their sales force with respect to off-

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label uses of products for which marketing clearance has not been issued. However, companies may share truthful and not misleading information that is otherwise consistent with the product’s FDA approved labeling. Violations of the FDCA relating to the promotion of prescription drugs may lead to investigations alleging violations of federal and state health care fraud and abuse laws, as well as state consumer protection laws.

In addition, later discovery of previously unknown adverse events or other problems with our drugs, manufacturers or manufacturing processes, or failure to comply with regulatory requirements, may have negative consequences, including:

restrictions on such drugs, manufacturers or manufacturing processes;
restrictions on the labeling or marketing of a drug;
restrictions on drug distribution or use;
requirements to conduct post-marketing studies or clinical trials;
warning letters;
recall or withdrawal of the drugs from the market;
refusal to approve pending applications or supplements to approved applications;
clinical holds;
fines, restitution or disgorgement of profits or revenue;
suspension or withdrawal of marketing approvals;
refusal to permit the import or export of our drugs;
drug seizure; or
injunctions or the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

Non-compliance with the European Union’s requirements regarding safety monitoring or pharmacovigilance, and with requirements related to the development of drugs for the pediatric population, can also result in significant financial penalties. Similarly, failure to comply with the European Union’s requirements regarding the protection of personal information can also lead to significant penalties and sanctions. These and other risks associated with the failure by our potential third-party partners to comply with regulatory requirements may compromise our ability to earn revenue from arrangements with such third-party partners for our drug candidates.

Our potential third-party partners’ relationships with third-party payors, health care professionals and customers in the United States and elsewhere may be subject, directly or indirectly, to applicable anti-kickback, fraud and abuse, false claims, physician payment transparency, health information privacy and security and other health care laws and regulations, and any failure to comply with such laws and regulations could have a material adverse effect on our ability to earn revenue from arrangements with such third-party partners for our drug candidates.

Health care providers, physicians and third-party payors in the United States and elsewhere will play a primary role in the recommendation and prescription of any of our drug candidates for which marketing approval is obtained. Our potential third-party partners’ arrangements with third-party payors, health care professionals and customers may expose them to broadly applicable fraud and abuse and other health care laws and regulations, including, without limitation, the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and the federal civil False Claims Act, that may constrain the business or financial arrangements and relationships through which they sell, market and distribute any drug candidates for which marketing approval is obtained. In addition, we and our potential third-party partners may be subject to transparency laws and patient privacy regulation by the federal government and by the U.S. states and foreign jurisdictions in which we or they conduct business. The applicable federal, state and foreign health care laws and regulations that may affect our or our potential third-party partners’ ability to operate include the following:

the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits, among other things, persons and entities from knowingly and willfully soliciting, offering, receiving or providing remuneration, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind, to induce or reward, or in return for, either the referral of an individual for, or the purchase, order or recommendation of, any good or service, for which payment may be made under federal and state health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Further, several courts have interpreted the statute’s intent requirement to mean that if any one purpose of an arrangement involving remuneration is to induce referrals of federal health care covered business, the Anti-Kickback Statute has been violated.  The intent standard was further amended by the Affordable Care Act, to a stricter standard such that a person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it in order to have committed a

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violation.  Moreover, the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the False Claims Act;
federal civil and criminal false claims laws, including, without limitation, the federal civil False Claims Act (that can be enforced through civil whistleblower or qui tam actions), and the civil monetary penalties law, which impose criminal and civil penalties, against individuals or entities for knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government, including the Medicare and Medicaid programs, claims for payment that are false or fraudulent or making a false statement to avoid, decrease or conceal an obligation to pay money to the federal government;
federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, which imposes criminal and civil liability for, among other things, executing a scheme to defraud any health care benefit program or making false statements relating to health care matters. Similar to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, a person or entity does not need to have actual knowledge of the statute or specific intent to violate it to have committed a violation;
HIPAA, as amended by HITECH, and their respective implementing regulations, which impose obligations on covered health care providers, health plans, and health care clearinghouses, as well as their business associates that create, receive, maintain or transmit individually identifiable health information for or on behalf of a covered entity and their subcontractors that use, disclose, access, or otherwise process protected health information, with respect to safeguarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information;
the federal Open Payments program, created under Section 6002 of the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as the Physician Payments Sunshine Act) and its implementing regulations, which requires specified manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologics or medical supplies for which payment is available under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, with specific exceptions, to report annually to CMS information related to payments or other “transfers of value” made to physicians, which is defined to include doctors, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors and teaching hospitals, as well as applicable manufacturers to report annually to CMS ownership and investment interests held by physicians and their immediate family members, and, beginning in 2022, will require applicable manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value provided in the previous year to physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologist assistants and certified nurse midwives. All such reported information is publicly available; and
analogous state and foreign laws and regulations, such as state anti-kickback and false claims laws, which may apply to sales or marketing arrangements and claims involving health care items or services reimbursed by non-governmental third-party payors, including private insurers; state and foreign laws that require pharmaceutical companies to comply with the pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary compliance guidelines and the relevant compliance guidance promulgated by the federal government or otherwise restrict payments that may be made to health care providers; state, local and foreign laws that require drug manufacturers to report information related to payments and other transfers of value to physicians and other health care providers or marketing expenditures; state laws that require drug manufacturers to report pricing information regarding certain drugs; and/or that require registration of certain employees engaged in marketing activities in the location; and state and foreign laws governing the privacy and security of health information in certain circumstances, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not preempted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts.

Efforts to ensure that our or our potential third-party partners’ business arrangements with third parties will comply with applicable health care laws and regulations may involve substantial costs. It is possible that governmental authorities will conclude that our or our potential third-party partners’ business practices, including relationships with physicians and other health care providers, some of whom may recommend, purchase and/or prescribe our drug candidates, if approved, may not comply with current or future statutes, regulations or case law involving applicable fraud and abuse or other health care laws and regulations. By way of example, some of our consulting arrangements with physicians may not meet all of the criteria of the personal services safe harbor under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Accordingly, they may not qualify for safe harbor protection from government prosecution. A business arrangement that does not substantially comply with a safe harbor, however, is not necessarily illegal under the Anti-Kickback Statute, but may be subject to additional scrutiny by the government.

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If our or our potential third-party partners’ operations are found to be in violation of any of these laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us or them, we or our potential third-party partners may be subject to significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, including, without limitation, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, exclusion from participation in government health care programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, additional reporting requirements and oversight if we or they become subject to a corporate integrity agreement or similar agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws and the curtailment or restructuring of our or their operations, which could have a material adverse effect on our ability to earn revenue from arrangements with such third-party partners for our drug candidates. If any physician or other health care provider or entity with whom we or our potential third-party partners expect to do business is found not to be in compliance with applicable laws, it may be subject to significant criminal, civil or administrative sanctions, including exclusions from participation in government health care programs, which could also materially affect our ability to earn revenue from arrangements with such third-party partners for our drug candidates.

Recently enacted and future legislation may increase the difficulty and cost for our potential third-party partners to obtain marketing approval of our drug candidates and commercialize our drug candidates, if approved, and affect the prices our potential third-party partners may obtain.

In the United States, and some foreign jurisdictions, there have been a number of legislative and regulatory changes and proposed changes regarding the health care system that could prevent or delay marketing approval of our drug candidates, restrict or regulate post-approval activities and affect our potential third-party partners’ ability to profitably sell any of our drug candidates for which our potential third-party partners obtain marketing approval, and consequently affect our ability to earn revenue from arrangements with such third-party partners for our drug candidates.

Among policy makers and payors in the United States and elsewhere, there is significant interest in promoting changes in health care systems with the stated goals of containing health care costs, improving quality and/or expanding access. In the United States, the pharmaceutical industry has been a particular focus of these efforts and has been significantly affected by major legislative initiatives.  The Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010, is a sweeping law intended to broaden access to health insurance, reduce or constrain the growth of health care spending, enhance remedies against fraud and abuse, add new transparency requirements for the health care and health insurance industries, impose new taxes and fees on the health industry and impose additional health policy reforms.

Among the provisions of the Affordable Care Act of importance to commercial products are the following:

an annual, nondeductible fee on any entity that manufactures or imports certain branded prescription drugs and biologic agents, apportioned among these entities according to their market share in certain government health care programs;
an increase in the statutory minimum rebates a manufacturer must pay under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program to 23.1% and 13.0% of the average manufacturer price for branded and generic drugs, respectively;
expansion of health care fraud and abuse laws, including the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute, which include, among other things, new government investigative powers and enhanced penalties for non-compliance;
a new Medicare Part D coverage gap discount program, in which manufacturers must agree to offer 70% point-of-sale discounts off negotiated prices of applicable brand drugs to eligible beneficiaries during their coverage gap period, as a condition for the manufacturer’s outpatient drugs to be covered under Medicare Part D;
extension of manufacturers’ Medicaid rebate liability to covered drugs dispensed to individuals who are enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations;
expansion of eligibility criteria for Medicaid programs by, among other things, allowing states to offer Medicaid coverage to additional individuals, thereby potentially increasing manufacturers’ Medicaid rebate liability;
expansion of the entities eligible for discounts under the Public Health Service pharmaceutical pricing program;
the new requirements under the federal Open Payments program and its implementing regulations;
a new requirement to annually report drug samples that manufacturers and distributors provide to physicians; and

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a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in, and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, along with funding for such research.

There remain judicial and Congressional challenges to certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act. While Congress has not passed comprehensive repeal legislation, several bills affecting the implementation of certain taxes under the Affordable Care Act have been signed into law. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, or the 2017 Tax Act, includes a provision that repealed, effective January 1, 2019, the tax-based shared responsibility payment imposed by the Affordable Care Act on certain individuals who fail to maintain qualifying health coverage for all or part of a year that is commonly referred to as the “individual mandate”.  Additionally, the 2020 federal spending package permanently eliminated, effective January 1, 2020, the Affordable Care Act-mandated “Cadillac” tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage and medical device tax and, effective January 1, 2021, also eliminated the health insurer tax.  Further, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, or the BBA, among other things, amended the Affordable Care Act, effective January 1, 2019, to close the coverage gap in most Medicare drug plans, commonly referred to as the “donut hole”.  On December 14, 2018, a Texas U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional in its entirety because the “individual mandate” was repealed by Congress as part of the 2017 Tax Act. Additionally, on December 18, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the District Court ruling that the individual mandate was unconstitutional and remanded the case back to the District Court to determine whether the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act are invalid as well.  The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing the case, although it is unknown when a decision will be made. Further, although the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, on January 28, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order to initiate a special enrollment period from February 15, 2021 through May 15, 2021 for purposes of obtaining health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. The executive order also instructs certain governmental agencies to review and reconsider their existing policies and rules that limit access to healthcare, including among others, reexamining Medicaid demonstration projects and waiver programs that include work requirements, and policies that create unnecessary barriers to obtaining access to health insurance coverage through Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act. It is unclear how the Supreme Court ruling, other such litigation, and the health care reform measures of the Biden administration will impact the Affordable Care Act and our business.

In addition, other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. These changes included aggregate reductions to Medicare payments to providers of 2% per fiscal year that became effective on April 1, 2013 and, due to subsequent legislative amendments to the statute, including the BBA, will stay in effect through 2030 with the exception of a temporary suspension from May 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021 unless additional Congressional action is taken.  The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which was signed into law in January 2013, among other things, further reduced Medicare payments to several providers, and increased the statute of limitations period for the government to recover overpayments to providers from three to five years. Any similar new laws may result in additional reductions in Medicare and other health care funding, which could have a material adverse effect on our ability to earn revenue from arrangements with our potential third-party partners for our drug candidates.

We expect that the Affordable Care Act, as well as other health care reform measures that may be adopted in the future, may result in more rigorous coverage criteria and in additional downward pressure on the price that our potential third-party partners receive for any approved drug candidate. Any reduction in reimbursement from Medicare or other government programs may result in a similar reduction in payments from private payors. The implementation of cost containment measures or other health care reforms may prevent our potential third-party partners from being able to generate revenue, attain profitability, or commercialize our drug candidates, if approved, which in turn may impact our ability to earn revenue from arrangements with such third-party partners for our drug candidates. Further, it is also possible that additional governmental action is taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Legislative and regulatory proposals have been made to expand post-approval requirements and restrict sales and promotional activities for drugs.  In addition, there has been heightened governmental scrutiny in the United States of pharmaceutical pricing practices in light of the rising cost of prescription drugs and biologics. Such scrutiny has resulted in several recent Congressional inquiries and proposed and enacted federal and state legislation designed to, among other things, bring more transparency to drug pricing, review the relationship between pricing and manufacturer patient programs, and reform government program reimbursement methodologies for drugs. At the federal level, the Trump administration used several means to propose or implement drug pricing reform, including through federal budget proposals, executive orders and policy initiatives. For example, on July 24, 2020 and September 13, 2020, President Trump announced several executive orders related to prescription drug pricing that seek to implement several of the administration’s proposals. As a result, the FDA released a final rule on September 24, 2020, effective November 30,

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2020, providing guidance for states to build and submit importation plans for drugs from Canada. Further, on November 20, 2020, HHS finalized a regulation removing safe harbor protection for price reductions from pharmaceutical manufacturers to plan sponsors under Part D, either directly or through pharmacy benefit managers, unless the price reduction is required by law. The implementation of the rule has been delayed by the Biden administration from January 1, 2022 to January 1, 2023 in response to ongoing litigation. The rule also creates a new safe harbor for price reductions reflected at the point-of-sale, as well as a new safe harbor for certain fixed fee arrangements between pharmacy benefit managers and manufacturers, the implementation of which have also been delayed pending review by the Biden administration until March 22, 2021. On November 20, 2020, CMS issued an interim final rule implementing President Trump’s Most Favored Nation executive order, which would tie Medicare Part B payments for certain physician-administered drugs to the lowest price paid in other economically advanced countries, effective January 1, 2021. On December 28, 2020, the U.S. District Court in Northern California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against implementation of the interim final rule. It is unclear whether the Biden administration will work to reverse these measures or pursue similar policy initiatives. At the state level, legislatures have become increasingly active in passing legislation and implementing regulations designed to control pharmaceutical and biological product pricing, including price or patient reimbursement constraints, discounts, restrictions on certain drug access and marketing cost disclosure and transparency measures, and, in some cases, designed to encourage importation from other countries and bulk purchasing.  We cannot be sure whether additional legislative changes will be enacted, or whether the FDA regulations, guidance or interpretations will be changed, or what the impact of such changes on obtaining marketing approvals for our drug candidates, if any, may be. In addition, increased scrutiny by the U.S. Congress of the FDA’s approval process may significantly delay or prevent marketing approval, as well as subject our potential third-party partners to more stringent drug labeling and post-marketing testing and other requirements. These risks may compromise our ability to earn revenue from arrangements with such third-party partners for our drug candidates.

Governments outside the United States tend to impose strict price controls, which may adversely affect our revenue.

In some countries, particularly the countries of the European Union, the pricing of prescription pharmaceuticals is subject to governmental control. In these countries, pricing negotiations with governmental authorities can take considerable time after the receipt of marketing approval for a drug. To obtain coverage and reimbursement or pricing approval in some countries, our potential third-party partners may be required to conduct a clinical trial that compares the cost-effectiveness of our drug candidate to other available procedures. If reimbursement of our drug candidates is unavailable or limited in scope or amount, or if pricing is set at unsatisfactory levels, our potential third-party partners may not able to generate revenue, which in turn may adversely affect our ability to earn revenue from arrangements with such third-party partners for our drug candidates. 

If we fail to comply with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, we could become subject to fines or penalties or incur costs that could harm our business.

We are subject to numerous environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing laboratory procedures and the handling, use, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes. Our operations involve the use of hazardous and flammable materials, including chemicals and biological materials. Our operations also produce hazardous waste products. We generally contract with third parties for the disposal of these materials and wastes. We cannot eliminate the risk of contamination or injury from these materials. In the event of contamination or injury resulting from our use of hazardous materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages, and any liability could exceed our resources. We also could incur significant costs associated with civil or criminal fines and penalties for failure to comply with such laws and regulations. 

Although we maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover us for costs and expenses we may incur due to injuries to our employees resulting from the use of hazardous materials, this insurance may not provide adequate coverage against potential liabilities. We do not maintain insurance for environmental liability or toxic tort claims that may be asserted against us in connection with our storage or disposal of biological, hazardous or radioactive materials.

In addition, we may incur substantial costs in order to comply with current or future environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. These current or future laws and regulations may impair our development or manufacturing efforts. Our failure to comply with these laws and regulations also may result in substantial fines, penalties or other sanctions.  

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We are subject to governmental economic sanctions and export and import controls that could impair our potential third-party partners’ ability to compete in international markets or subject us or our potential third-party partners to liability if we or they are not in compliance with applicable laws.

As a U.S. company, we are subject to U.S. import and export controls and economic sanctions laws and regulations, and we are required to import and export our drug candidates, technology and services in compliance with those laws and regulations, including the U.S. Export Administration Regulations, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, and economic embargo and trade sanction programs administered by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.  

U.S. economic sanctions and export control laws and regulations prohibit the shipment of certain products and services to countries, governments and persons targeted by U.S. sanctions. While we are currently taking precautions to prevent doing any business, directly or indirectly, with countries, governments and persons targeted by U.S. sanctions and to ensure that our drug candidates are not exported or used by countries, governments and persons targeted by U.S. sanctions, such measures may be circumvented.  

Furthermore, if we or our potential third-party partners export our drug candidates, the exports may require authorizations, including a license, a license exception or other appropriate government authorization. Complying with export control and sanctions regulations may be time-consuming and may result in the delay or loss of sales opportunities. Failure to comply with export control and sanctions regulations may expose us or our potential third-party partners to government investigations and penalties.  

If we are found to be in violation of U.S. sanctions or import or export control laws, it could result in civil and criminal, monetary and non-monetary penalties, including possible incarceration for those individuals responsible for the violations, the loss of export or import privileges and reputational harm.

We and our potential third-party partners are subject to anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws with respect to our and their operations and non-compliance with such laws can subject us to criminal and/or civil liability and harm our business.

We and our potential third-party partners are subject to the FCPA, the U.S. domestic bribery statute contained in 18 U.S.C. § 201, the U.S. Travel Act, the USA PATRIOT Act and possibly other anti-bribery and anti-money laundering laws in countries in which we conduct activities. Anti-corruption laws are interpreted broadly and prohibit companies and their employees and third-party intermediaries from authorizing, offering or providing, directly or indirectly, improper payments or benefits to recipients in the public or private sector. We or our potential third-party partners may engage third-party intermediaries in connection with the development or commercialization of our drug candidates, if approved, and to obtain necessary permits, licenses and other regulatory approvals. We, our potential third-party partners or the third-party intermediaries may have direct or indirect interactions with officials and employees of government agencies or state-owned or affiliated entities. We can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of these third-party intermediaries, our employees, representatives, contractors, partners and agents, even if we do not explicitly authorize such activities. 

Noncompliance with anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws could subject us to whistleblower complaints, investigations, sanctions, settlements, prosecution, other enforcement actions, disgorgement of profits, significant fines, damages, other civil and criminal penalties or injunctions, suspension and/or debarment from contracting with certain persons, the loss of export privileges, reputational harm, adverse media coverage and other collateral consequences. Responding to any action will likely result in a materially significant diversion of management’s attention and resources and significant defense costs and other professional fees.

Risks Related to Employee Matters and Managing Our Growth

Our future success depends on our ability to retain key executives and to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel.

We are highly dependent on the management, development, clinical, financial, legal and business development expertise of Dr. Neal Walker, our Chief Executive Officer, Dr. David Gordon, our Chief Medical Officer, Frank Ruffo, our Chief Financial Officer, and Kamil Ali-Jackson, our Chief Legal Officer, as well as the other members of our scientific and clinical teams. Although we have entered into employment agreements with certain of our executive officers, each of

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them may currently terminate their employment with us or resign at any time.  We do not maintain “key person” insurance for any of our key executives other than for Dr. Walker. 

Recruiting and retaining qualified scientific, manufacturing and clinical personnel will also be critical to our success. The loss of the services of our executive officers or other key employees could impede the achievement of our development objectives and seriously harm our ability to successfully implement our business strategy. Furthermore, replacing executive officers and key employees may be difficult and may take an extended period of time because of the limited number of individuals in our industry with the breadth of skills and experience required to successfully develop and partner drug candidates. Competition to hire from this limited pool is intense, and we may be unable to hire, train, retain or motivate these key personnel on acceptable terms given the competition among numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for similar personnel. We also experience competition for the hiring of scientific and clinical personnel from universities and research institutions. In addition, we rely on consultants and advisors, including scientific and clinical advisors, to assist us in formulating our development strategy. Our consultants and advisors may have commitments under employment, consulting or advisory contracts with other entities that may limit their availability to us. If we are unable to continue to attract and retain high quality personnel, our ability to pursue our growth strategy will be limited. 

Our employees, independent contractors, consultants, third-party partners, principal investigators, CROs and vendors may engage in misconduct or other improper activities, including non-compliance with regulatory standards and requirements.

We are exposed to the risk that our employees, independent contractors, consultants, third-party partners, principal investigators, CROs and vendors may engage in fraudulent conduct or other illegal activity. Misconduct by these parties could include intentional, reckless and/or negligent conduct or disclosure of unauthorized activities to us that violates FDA regulations, including those laws requiring the reporting of true, complete and accurate information to the FDA, manufacturing standards, federal and state health care laws and regulations, and laws that require the true, complete and accurate reporting of financial information or data. In particular, sales, marketing and business arrangements by our potential third-party partners in the health care industry are subject to extensive laws and regulations intended to prevent fraud, kickbacks, self-dealing and other abusive practices. These laws and regulations may restrict or prohibit a wide range of pricing, discounting, marketing and promotion, sales commission, customer incentive programs and other business arrangements. Misconduct by these parties could also involve the improper use of individually identifiable information, including, without limitation, information obtained in the course of clinical trials, which could result in regulatory sanctions and serious harm to our reputation. We have adopted a code of business conduct and ethics, but it is not always possible to identify and deter misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses or in protecting us from governmental investigations or other actions or lawsuits stemming from a failure to be in compliance with such laws or regulations. If any such actions are instituted against us, and we are not successful in defending ourselves or asserting our rights, those actions could have a significant impact on our business, including the imposition of significant civil, criminal and administrative penalties, including, without limitation, damages, fines, disgorgement, imprisonment, exclusion from participation in government health care programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, additional reporting obligations and oversight if we are subject to a corporate integrity agreement or other agreement to resolve allegations of non-compliance with these laws, and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations.

Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock

The trading price of the shares of our common stock has been and is likely to continue to be volatile.

Our stock price has been and is likely to continue to be volatile. The stock market in general and the market for biotechnology companies in particular have experienced extreme volatility that has often been unrelated to the operating performance of particular companies. As a result of this volatility, investors may not be able to sell their common stock at or above the price paid for the shares. The market price for our common stock may be influenced by many factors, including:

the commencement, enrollment or results of any clinical trials we may conduct, or changes in the development status of our drug candidates;

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any delay in our regulatory filings for any of our drug candidates and any adverse development or perceived adverse development with respect to the applicable regulatory authority’s review of such filings, including without limitation the FDA’s issuance of a “refusal to file” letter or a request for additional information;
adverse results from, delays in or termination of clinical trials;
adverse regulatory decisions, including failure of any of our drug candidates to receive marketing approval;
unanticipated serious safety concerns related to the use of any drug candidate or previously sold commercial product;
changes in financial estimates by us or by any securities analysts who might cover our stock;
conditions or trends in our industry;
changes in the structure of health care payment systems;
changes in the market valuations of similar companies;
stock market price and volume fluctuations of comparable companies and, in particular, those that operate in the biotechnology industry;
publication of research reports about us or our industry or positive or negative recommendations or withdrawal of research coverage by securities analysts;
announcements by us or our competitors of significant acquisitions, strategic partnerships or divestitures;
announcements of investigations or regulatory scrutiny of our operations or lawsuits filed against us;
investors’ general perception of our company and our business;
recruitment or departure of key personnel;
overall performance of the equity markets;
trading volume of our common stock;
disputes or other developments relating to proprietary rights, including patents, litigation matters and our ability to obtain patent protection for our technologies;
significant lawsuits, including patent or stockholder litigation;
general political and economic conditions;
the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and success of mass vaccination efforts; and
other events or factors, many of which are beyond our control.

In the past, stockholders have initiated class action lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies following periods of volatility in the market prices of these companies’ stock. For example, two purported class action complaints were filed against us and certain of our executive officers alleging violations of certain federal securities laws and two stockholder derivative actions were filed against certain of our executive officers and directors alleging breaches of fiduciary duties.  We and the other defendants dispute the plaintiffs’ claims and intend to defend these matters vigorously.  We have entered into indemnification agreements with our executive officers and directors which provide, among other things, that we will indemnify such officer or director, under the circumstances and to the extent provided for therein, for expenses, damages, judgments, fines and settlements he or she may be required to pay in actions or proceedings which he or she is or may be made a party by reason of his or her position as our director, officer or other agent, and otherwise to the fullest extent permitted under Delaware law and our bylaws. These cases, and additional litigation, if instituted against us, could cause us to incur substantial costs and divert management’s attention and resources from our business.

Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock into the market could cause the market price of our common stock to drop significantly, even if our business is doing well.

Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market could occur at any time. If our stockholders sell, or the market perceives that our stockholders intend to sell, substantial amounts of our common stock in the public market, the market price of our common stock could decline significantly.

In addition, we have filed registration statements on Form S-8 under the Securities Act registering the issuance of shares of common stock subject to options or other equity awards issued or reserved for future issuance under our equity incentive plans. Shares registered under these registration statements are available for sale in the public market subject to vesting arrangements and exercise of options, and the restrictions of Rule 144 under the Securities Act in the case of our affiliates.

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Provisions in our corporate charter documents and under Delaware law may prevent or frustrate attempts by our stockholders to change our management and hinder efforts to acquire a controlling interest in us, and the market price of our common stock may be lower as a result.

There are provisions in our certificate of incorporation and bylaws that may make it difficult for a third party to acquire, or attempt to acquire, control of our company, even if a change of control was considered favorable by some or all of our stockholders. For example, our board of directors has the authority to issue up to 10,000,000 shares of preferred stock. The board of directors can fix the price, rights, preferences, privileges, and restrictions of the preferred stock without any further vote or action by our stockholders. The issuance of shares of preferred stock may delay or prevent a change of control transaction. As a result, the market price of our common stock and the voting and other rights of our stockholders may be adversely affected. An issuance of shares of preferred stock may result in the loss of voting control to other stockholders.

Our charter documents also contain other provisions that could have an anti-takeover effect, including:

only one of our three classes of directors is elected each year;
stockholders are not entitled to remove directors other than by a 66 2/3% vote and only for cause;
stockholders are not permitted to take actions by written consent;
stockholders cannot call a special meeting of stockholders; and
stockholders must give advance notice to nominate directors or submit proposals for consideration at stockholder meetings.

In addition, we are subject to the anti-takeover provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which regulates corporate acquisitions by prohibiting Delaware corporations from engaging in specified business combinations with particular stockholders of those companies. These provisions could discourage potential acquisition proposals and could delay or prevent a change of control transaction. They could also have the effect of discouraging others from making tender offers for our common stock, including transactions that may be in your best interests. These provisions may also prevent changes in our management or limit the price that investors are willing to pay for our stock.

We are a “smaller reporting company” and, as a result of the reduced disclosure and governance requirements applicable to smaller reporting companies, our common stock may be less attractive to investors.

We are a “smaller reporting company” as defined in Item 10(f)(1) of Regulation S-K, and we intend to take advantage of some of the exemptions from reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not smaller reporting companies, including:

not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements in the assessment of our internal control over financial reporting; and
reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports, proxy statements and registration statements.

We may take advantage of these reporting exemptions until we are no longer a smaller reporting company. We will remain a smaller reporting company until the last day of any fiscal year for so long as either (1) the market value of our shares of common stock held by non-affiliates does not equal or exceed $250.0 million as of the prior June 30th, or (2) our annual revenues did not equal or exceed $100.0 million during such completed fiscal year and the market value of our shares of common stock held by non-affiliates did not equal or exceed $700.0 million as of the prior June 30th.

We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive because we will rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.

If we fail to maintain proper and effective internal controls, our ability to produce accurate financial statements on a timely basis could be impaired.

We are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the rules and regulations of the stock market on which our common stock is listed. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires, among other

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things, that we maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting, and perform system and process evaluation and testing of our internal control over financial reporting to allow management to report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. This requires that we incur substantial additional professional fees and internal costs to expand our accounting and finance functions and that we expend significant management efforts.

We may identify weaknesses in our system of internal financial and accounting controls and procedures that could result in a material misstatement of our consolidated financial statements. Our internal control over financial reporting will not prevent or detect all errors and all fraud. A control system, no matter how well designed and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the control system’s objectives will be met. Because of the inherent limitations in all control systems, no evaluation of controls can provide absolute assurance that misstatements due to error or fraud will not occur or that all control issues and instances of fraud will be detected.

If we are unable to maintain proper and effective internal controls, we may not be able to produce timely and accurate financial statements, and we may conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is not effective. If that were to happen, the market price of our stock could decline, and we could be subject to sanctions or investigations by the stock exchange on which our common stock is listed, the SEC, or other regulatory authorities.

We might not be able to utilize a significant portion of our net operating loss carryforwards and research and development tax credit carryforwards.

As of December 31, 2020, we had federal and state net operating loss carryforwards, or NOLs, of $367.6 million and $369.6 million, respectively, which will begin to expire in 2032.  Under the 2017 Tax Act, as modified by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, federal NOL carryforwards generated in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 may be carried forward indefinitely but, in the case of tax years beginning after 2020, may only be used to offset 80% of our taxable income annually. Federal NOL carryforwards generated in taxable years beginning in 2018, 2019 and 2020 will similarly carry forward indefinitely but will not be subject to such 80% of annual taxable income limitation.  It is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the federal tax law.  As of December 31, 2020, we also had federal research and development tax credit carryforwards of $8.6 million which will begin to expire in 2032, and state research and development tax credit carryforwards of $0.1 million which will begin to expire in 2022. We also have $0.2 million of loss carryforwards in the United Kingdom which can be carried forward indefinitely. These net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards could expire unused or due to limitation on use be unavailable to offset future income tax liabilities.  In addition, under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, and corresponding provisions of state law, if a corporation undergoes an “ownership change,” which is generally defined as a greater than 50% change, by value, in its equity ownership over a three-year period, the corporation’s ability to use its pre-change net operating loss carryforwards and other pre-change tax attributes to offset its post-change income may be limited.  We have completed an analysis under Section 382 for NOLs generated from July 13, 2012 through July 20, 2020.  Although we have experienced Section 382 ownership changes since 2012, we have concluded that we should have sufficient ability to utilize NOLs accumulated during the periods tested.  We have not yet determined if a Section 382 ownership change has occurred after July 20, 2020.  In addition, we may experience ownership changes in the future as a result of subsequent shifts in our stock ownership, some of which may be outside of our control. If we determine that an ownership change has occurred and our ability to use our historical net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards is materially limited, it might harm our future operating results by effectively increasing our future tax obligations.

We do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future and our stock may not appreciate in value.

We have not declared or paid cash dividends on our common stock to date. We currently intend to retain our future earnings, if any, to fund the development and growth of our business. There is no guarantee that shares of our common stock will appreciate in value or that the price at which our stockholders have purchased their shares will be able to be maintained.

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Exclusive forum provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees.

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware is the exclusive forum for the following types of actions or proceedings under Delaware statutory or common law: (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (ii) any action asserting a claim for breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers or other employees to us or our stockholders, (iii) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws or (iv) any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine. This provision would not apply to suits brought to enforce a duty or liability created by the Exchange Act. Furthermore, Section 22 of the Securities Act creates concurrent jurisdiction for federal and state courts over all such Securities Act actions. Accordingly, both state and federal courts have jurisdiction to entertain such claims. To prevent having to litigate claims in multiple jurisdictions and the threat of inconsistent or contrary rulings by different courts, among other considerations, our amended and restated bylaws provide the federal district courts of the United States of America will be the exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act. While the Delaware courts have determined that such choice of forum provisions are facially valid, a stockholder may nevertheless seek to bring a claim in a venue other than those designated in the exclusive forum provisions. In such instance, we would expect to vigorously assert the validity and enforceability of the exclusive forum provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws. This may require significant additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions and there can be no assurance that the provisions will be enforced by a court in those other jurisdictions.

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws further provide any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in shares of our common stock is deemed to have notice of and consented to the foregoing provisions. These exclusive forum provisions may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or other employees, which may discourage lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and other employees. If a court were to find either exclusive-forum provision to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur further significant additional costs associated with resolving the dispute in other jurisdictions, all of which could seriously harm our business.

General Risk Factors

Our business and operations would suffer in the event of computer system failures, cyber-attacks or a deficiency in our cyber-security.

Despite the implementation of security measures, our internal computer systems, and those of third parties on which we rely, are vulnerable to damage from computer viruses, malware, natural disasters, terrorism, war, telecommunication and electrical failures, cyber-attacks or cyber-intrusions over the Internet, attachments to emails, persons inside our organization, or persons with access to systems inside our organization. The risk of a security breach or disruption, particularly through cyber-attacks or cyber intrusion, including by computer hackers, foreign governments, and cyber terrorists, has generally increased as the number, intensity and sophistication of attempted attacks and intrusions from around the world have increased. If such an event were to occur and cause interruptions in our operations, it could result in a material disruption of our drug development programs. For example, the loss of clinical trial data from completed or ongoing or planned clinical trials could result in delays in obtaining marketing approval for our drug candidates and significantly increase our costs to recover or reproduce the data. To the extent that any disruption or security breach was to result in a loss of or damage to our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur material legal claims and liability, damage to our reputation, and the further development or commercialization of our drug candidates by a potential third-party partner could be delayed.

An active trading market for our common stock may not be sustained.

Although our common stock is listed on The Nasdaq Global Select Market, we cannot assure you that an active trading market for our shares will be sustained. If an active market for our common stock is not sustained, it may be difficult for investors in our common stock to sell shares without depressing the market price for the shares or to sell the shares at all. 

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If equity research analysts do not publish research or reports, or publish unfavorable research or reports, about us, our business or our market, our stock price and trading volume could decline.

The trading market for our common stock is influenced by the research and reports that equity research analysts publish about us or our business, our market and our competitors. Equity research analysts may elect not to initiate or continue to provide research coverage of our common stock, and such lack of research coverage may adversely affect the market price of our common stock. Even if we have equity research analyst coverage, we will not have any control over the analysts or the content and opinions included in their reports. The price of our stock could decline if one or more equity research analysts downgrade our stock or issue other unfavorable commentary or research. If one or more equity research analysts ceases coverage of our company or fails to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our stock could decrease, which in turn could cause our stock price or trading volume to decline. 

The issuance of additional stock in connection with financings, acquisitions, investments, our equity incentive plan or otherwise will dilute all other stockholders.

Our certificate of incorporation authorizes us to issue up to 100,000,000 shares of common stock and up to 10,000,000 shares of preferred stock with such rights and preferences as may be determined by our board of directors. Subject to compliance with applicable rules and regulations, we may issue our shares of common stock or securities convertible into our common stock from time to time in connection with a financing, acquisition, investment, our equity incentive plan or otherwise. Any such issuance could result in substantial dilution to our existing stockholders and cause the trading price of our common stock to decline. 

Changes in tax laws or regulations that are applied adversely to us may have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flow, financial condition or results of operations.

New income, sales, use or other tax laws, statutes, rules, regulations or ordinances could be enacted at any time, which could adversely affect our business operations and financial performance. Further, existing tax laws, statutes, rules, regulations or ordinances could be interpreted, changed, modified or applied adversely to us. For example, the 2017 Tax Act enacted many significant changes to the U.S. tax laws. Future guidance from the Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities with respect to the 2017 Tax Act (as modified by the CARES Act) may affect us, and certain aspects of the 2017 Tax Act could be repealed or modified in future legislation. In addition, it is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the 2017 Tax Act or any newly enacted federal tax legislation. Changes in corporate tax rates, the realization of net deferred tax assets relating to our operations, the taxation of foreign earnings, and the deductibility of expenses under the 2017 Tax Act or future reform legislation could have a material impact on the value of our deferred tax assets, could result in significant one-time charges, and could increase our future U.S. tax expense.

We incur significant costs and demands upon management as a result of being a public company.

As a public company listed in the United States, we incur, and will continue to incur, particularly after we cease to be a “smaller reporting company,” significant legal, accounting and other costs. These costs could negatively affect our financial results. In addition, changing laws, regulations and standards relating to corporate governance and public disclosure, including regulations implemented by the SEC and The Nasdaq Stock Market, may increase legal and financial compliance costs and make some activities more time-consuming. These laws, regulations and standards are subject to varying interpretations and, as a result, their application in practice may evolve over time as new guidance is provided by regulatory and governing bodies. We intend to invest resources to comply with evolving laws, regulations and standards, and this investment may result in increased general and administrative expenses and a diversion of management’s time and attention from revenue-generating activities to compliance activities. If notwithstanding our efforts to comply with new laws, regulations and standards, we fail to comply, regulatory authorities may initiate legal proceedings against us and our business may be harmed.

Failure to comply with these rules might also make it more difficult for us to obtain some types of insurance, including director and officer liability insurance, and we might be forced to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. The impact of these events could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified persons to serve on our board of directors, on committees of our board of directors or as members of senior management.

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Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

None.

Item 2. Properties

We sublease 33,019 square feet of space for our headquarters in Wayne, Pennsylvania, which we use for our therapeutics business. The sublease has a term through October 2023.  If for any reason the master lease is terminated or expires prior to October 2023, our sublease will automatically terminate.  

We also sublease 20,433 square feet of office and laboratory space in St. Louis, Missouri, which we use for our therapeutics and contract research businesses. The sublease has an initial term through June 2029. We have the option to extend the initial term for two additional five-year periods.

We believe that our facilities are suitable and adequate to meet our current needs.

Item 3. Legal Proceedings

From time to time we are subject to litigation and claims arising in the ordinary course of business including intellectual property and product liability litigation, but, except as stated below, we are not currently a party to any material legal proceedings and we are not aware of any other pending or threatened legal proceeding against us that we believe could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, cash flows or financial condition.

Securities Class Action

On July 30, 2019, plaintiff Linda Rosi, or Rosi, filed a putative class action complaint captioned Rosi v. Aclaris Therapeutics, Inc., et al. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against us and certain of our executive officers.  The complaint alleges that the defendants violated federal securities laws by, among other things, failing to disclose an alleged likelihood that regulators would scrutinize advertising materials related to ESKATA (hydrogen peroxide) topical solution, 40% (w/w), or ESKATA, our non-marketed FDA-approved product, and find that the materials minimized the risks or overstated the efficacy of the product.  The complaint seeks unspecified compensatory damages on behalf of Rosi and all other persons and entities that purchased or otherwise acquired our securities between May 8, 2018 and June 20, 2019.

On September 5, 2019, an additional plaintiff, Robert Fulcher, or Fulcher, filed a substantially identical putative class action complaint captioned Fulcher v. Aclaris Therapeutics, Inc., et al. in the same court against the same defendants.

On November 6, 2019, the court consolidated the Rosi and Fulcher actions, or together, the Consolidated Securities Action, and appointed Fulcher “lead plaintiff” for the putative class.

On January 24, 2020, Fulcher filed a consolidated amended complaint in the Consolidated Securities Action, naming two additional executive officers as defendants, extending the putative class period to August 12, 2019, and adding allegations concerning, among other things, alleged statements and omissions throughout the putative class period concerning ESKATA’s risks, tolerability and effectiveness. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the consolidated amended complaint on April 17, 2020. Fulcher filed an opposition to the defendants’ motion on June 15, 2020, and the defendants filed a reply to such opposition on August 4, 2020. Oral argument on the pending motion to dismiss is scheduled for February 25, 2021. The motion remains under judicial consideration.

We and the other defendants dispute plaintiffs’ claims in the Consolidated Securities Action and intend to defend the matter vigorously.

 

Stockholder Derivative Action

On November 15, 2019, plaintiff Keith Allred, or Allred, filed a derivative stockholder complaint captioned Allred v. Walker et al. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against certain of our

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directors and executive officers.  The complaint alleges that the defendants, among other things, breached their fiduciary duties as directors and/or officers in connection with the claims alleged in the Consolidated Securities Action.  The complaint seeks, among other things, unspecified compensatory damages on behalf of our company.

On November 25, 2019, an additional plaintiff, Bruce Brown, or Brown, filed a substantially identical complaint captioned Brown v. Walker et al. in the same court against the same defendants.

On December 12, 2019, the court consolidated the Allred and Brown actions under the caption In re Aclaris Therapeutics, Inc. Derivative Litigation, or the Consolidated Derivative Action, and directed that future derivative cases filed in or transferred to the court arising out of substantially the same transactions or events be similarly consolidated.  Thereafter, on January 11, 2020, the court stayed – subject to certain conditions – all deadlines in the Consolidated Derivative Action pending resolution of the defendants’ then-anticipated motion to dismiss the Consolidated Securities Action.

The defendants dispute plaintiffs’ claims in the Consolidated Derivative Action and intend to defend the matter vigorously.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures

Not applicable.

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PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Market Information for Common Stock

Our common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “ACRS.”  

Dividend Policy

We have never declared or paid any dividends on our common stock. We anticipate that we will retain all of our future earnings, if any, for use in the operation and expansion of our business and do not anticipate paying cash dividends in the foreseeable future.

Stockholders

As of January 31, 2021, we had 51,804,258 shares of common stock outstanding held by 56 holders of record. The actual number of stockholders is greater than this number of record holders and includes stockholders who are beneficial owners but whose shares are held in street name by brokers and other nominees. This number of holders of record also does not include stockholders whose shares may be held in trust by other entities.

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

None.

Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Parties

None.

Item 6. Selected Consolidated Financial Data

Not applicable.

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Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and the related notes to those statements included later in this Annual Report. In addition to historical financial information, the following discussion contains forward-looking statements that reflect our plans, estimates, beliefs and expectations that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results and the timing of events could differ materially from those discussed in these forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to these differences include those discussed below and elsewhere in this Annual Report, particularly in Part I, Item 1A. “Risk Factors,” and “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.”

Overview

We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing novel drug candidates for immuno-inflammatory diseases.  In addition to developing our novel drug candidates, we are pursuing strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our novel drug candidates.

ATI-450, an Investigational Oral MK2 Inhibitor

We submitted an Investigational New Drug Application, or IND, in April 2019 for ATI-450, an investigational oral, novel, small molecule selective mitogen-activated protein kinase-activated protein kinase 2, or MK2, inhibitor compound, for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, which was allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, in May 2019.  MK2 is a key regulator of pro-inflammatory mediators including TNFα, IL1β, IL6, IL8 and other essential pathogenic signals in chronic immuno-inflammatory diseases, as well as in oncology.  As an oral drug candidate, we are developing ATI-450 as a potential alternative to injectable anti-TNF/IL1/IL6 biologics and JAK inhibitors for treating certain immuno-inflammatory diseases.

We initiated a Phase 1 single (at 10mg, 30mg, 50mg and 100mg doses) and multiple ascending (at 10mg, 30mg and 50mg doses) dose clinical trial evaluating ATI-450 in 77 healthy subjects in August 2019 (ATI-450-PKPD-101). Final data from this trial demonstrated that ATI-450 resulted in marked inhibition of TNFα, IL1β, IL8 and IL6. We also observed that ATI-450 had dose-proportional pharmacokinetics with a terminal half-life of 9-12 hours in the multiple ascending dose cohort, and had no meaningful food effect or drug-drug interaction with methotrexate.  ATI-450 was generally well-tolerated at all doses tested in the trial.  The most common adverse events (reported by 2 or more subjects who received ATI-450) were dizziness, headache, upper respiratory tract infection, constipation, abdominal pain and nausea. 

ATI-450 was also evaluated at 80mg and 120mg doses twice daily in a second Phase 1 clinical trial in healthy subjects (ATI-450-PKPD-102). Preliminary topline data from this trial showed that no dose-limiting toxicity was observed. Ex vivo analysis of blood samples from this Phase 1 trial showed that increased cytokine inhibition was achieved with these higher doses of ATI-450. No serious adverse events were reported and all adverse events were mild to moderate. The most common adverse events (reported by 2 or more subjects who received ATI-450) were headache, dizziness, nausea, parasthesia and, in the post-dosing safety follow-up phase of the trial, dry skin. These adverse events were all mild in severity. A final analysis of this trial is underway.

Moderate to Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis

Following the completion of the first Phase 1 clinical trial, in March 2020 we initiated a 12-week, Phase 2a, multicenter, randomized, investigator and patient-blind, sponsor-unblinded, parallel group, placebo-controlled clinical trial to investigate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of ATI-450 in subjects with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (ATI-450-RA-201). In the trial, 19 subjects were randomized in a 3:1 ratio (seventeen subjects [15 in the treatment arm and two in the placebo arm] completed treatment) and received either ATI-450 at 50 mg twice daily or placebo, in combination with methotrexate, for 12 weeks. Preliminary topline data from this trial showed that ATI-450 demonstrated durable clinical activity, as defined by a marked and sustained reduction in DAS28-CRP and improvement of ACR20/50/70 responses over 12 weeks. ATI-450 was generally well tolerated. All adverse events were mild to moderate. The most common adverse events (each reported in 2 subjects) were urinary tract infection, or UTI, elevated lipids and ventricular extrasystoles, all of which were determined to be unrelated to treatment except for one UTI. Two subjects withdrew from the trial, one in the treatment arm and one in the placebo arm. The subject in the treatment arm withdrew due to palpitations, which were unrelated to the trial medication, and an elevated creatine phosphokinase,

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or CPK, which was determined by the site investigator to be treatment-related. The subject in the placebo arm withdrew as a result of prohibited medication needed to treat muscle strain. There was one non-treatment-related serious adverse event (COVID-19) reported in the four-week safety follow-up phase of the trial in a subject who was no longer receiving treatment.

An interim analysis (11 treatment, two placebo) of ex vivo stimulated cytokines from blood samples taken from the treatment arm showed a marked and durable inhibition of TNFα, IL1β, IL6, and IL8 over the 12 week dosing period. Similarly, analysis of endogenous inflammation biomarkers also demonstrated a marked and sustained inhibition of median concentrations of hsCRP, TNFα, IL6, IL8 and MIP1β in the treatment arm over the 12-week period.

We plan to submit for publication a full analysis of the Phase 2a data in a peer-reviewed scientific journal which will include data from other secondary and exploratory endpoints evaluated in the trial, including the four-week safety follow-up data and a full analysis of MRI, pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic data. Based on the results observed in the Phase 2a trial, we intend to progress ATI-450 into a Phase 2b trial in moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis in the second half of 2021.

Cryopyrin-associated Periodic Syndrome

In November 2020, we initiated a Phase 2a multicenter, open-label, single-arm clinical trial to investigate the safety, tolerability, efficacy and pharmacodynamics of ATI-450 for the maintenance of remission in subjects with cryopyrin-associated periodic syndrome, or CAPS, previously managed with anti-IL1 therapy (ATI-450-CAPS-201). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, subject enrollment in this trial was paused. As a result of the ongoing pandemic and given the positive preliminary topline data from the ATI-450-RA-201 trial, we have decided to focus our efforts and resources on other immuno-inflammatory diseases.

ATI-1777, an Investigational Topical “Soft” JAK 1/3 Inhibitor

In June 2020, we submitted an IND for ATI-1777, an investigational topical “soft” JAK 1/3 inhibitor compound, for the treatment of moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. “Soft” JAK inhibitors are designed to be topically applied and active in the skin, but rapidly metabolized and inactivated when they enter the bloodstream, which may result in low systemic exposure.

In October 2020, we initiated a Phase 2a, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled, parallel-group clinical trial to determine the efficacy, safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of ATI-1777 in subjects with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis (ATI-1777-AD-201). We expect data to be available mid-year 2021.

ATI-2138, an Investigational ITJ Inhibitor

We are also developing ATI-2138, an investigational oral ITK/TXK/JAK3, or ITJ, inhibitor compound, as a potential treatment for psoriasis and/or inflammatory bowel disease, which are both T-cell mediated autoimmune diseases.  The ITJ compound interrupts T cell signaling through the combined inhibition of ITK/TXK/JAK3 pathways in lymphocytes. We expect to file an IND for ATI-2138 in the second half of 2021.

Our Other Drug Candidates

We continue to seek third-party partners for our dermatology investigational drug candidate A-101 45% Topical Solution as a potential treatment for common warts (verruca vulgaris).

Financial Overview

Since our inception, we have incurred significant operating losses.  Our net loss was $51.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 and $161.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2019.  As of December 31, 2020, we had an accumulated deficit of $504.5 million.  We expect to incur significant expenses and operating losses for the foreseeable future as we advance our drug candidates from discovery through preclinical and clinical development.  In addition, our drug candidates, even if they are approved by regulatory agencies for marketing, may not achieve commercial success.  We may also not be successful in pursuing strategic alternatives, including identifying and consummating transactions with third-party partners, to further develop, obtain marketing approval for and/or commercialize our drug

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candidates.  Furthermore, we have incurred and expect to continue to incur significant costs associated with operating as a public company, including legal, accounting, investor relations and other expenses.  As a result, we will need substantial additional funding to support our continuing operations.

We have historically financed our operations primarily with sales of equity securities and incurring indebtedness in the form of loans from commercial lenders.  In the near term, we expect to finance our operations through these and other capital sources, including potential partnerships with other companies or other strategic transactions.  We may be unable to raise additional funds or enter into such other agreements or arrangements when needed on commercially acceptable terms, or at all.  If we fail to raise capital or enter into such agreements as, and when, needed, we may have to significantly delay, scale back or discontinue the development of one or more of our drug candidates.  

Recent Developments

January 2021 Public Offering

In January 2021, we closed a public offering in which we sold 6,306,271 shares of common stock at a price to the public of $17.50 per share, for aggregate gross proceeds of $110.4 million. We paid underwriting discounts and commissions of $6.6 million, and also incurred expenses of $0.3 million in connection with the offering.  As a result, the net offering proceeds received by us, after deducting underwriting discounts, commissions and offering expenses, were $103.5 million.

Impact of COVID-19 on Our Business

The impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve. We have implemented a virtual operations strategy, including teleworking and other alternative work arrangements for our employees, intended to protect the health and safety of our employees while enabling us to continue to develop our drug candidates and provide contract research services to our clients. We are focused on ensuring the continuity of our operations. However, COVID-19 has caused disruptions to our business. For example, due to the COVID-19 pandemic subject enrollment in our ATI-450-CAPS-201 trial was paused as a result of which, among other reasons, we have decided to focus our efforts and resources on other immuno-inflammatory diseases.

If COVID-19 continues to spread, we may experience additional disruptions that could severely impact our business, results of operations and prospects, including the timing of our development programs and our clinical trials, including our trials of ATI-450 as a potential treatment for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis and ATI-1777 as a potential treatment for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our business, our preclinical and clinical development and our regulatory efforts will depend on future developments that are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted, such as the geographic spread of the disease, the duration of the outbreak, travel restrictions, quarantines, stay-at-home orders, social distancing requirements, business closures and supply chain and other disruptions in the United States and other countries, and the effectiveness of actions taken in the United States and other countries to contain and treat the disease, including the administration of vaccines.  Accordingly, we do not yet know the full extent of the potential impacts on our business, our preclinical and clinical development and regulatory activities.

Acquisition and License Agreements

Agreement and Plan of Merger with Confluence

In August 2017, we entered into an Agreement and Plan of Merger, or the Confluence Agreement, with Confluence Life Sciences, Inc. (now known as Aclaris Life Sciences, Inc.), or Confluence, Aclaris Life Sciences, Inc., our wholly-owned subsidiary, or Merger Sub, and Fortis Advisors LLC, as representative of the equity holders of Confluence.  Pursuant to the terms of the Confluence Agreement, the Merger Sub merged with and into Confluence, with Confluence surviving as our wholly-owned subsidiary. We paid closing consideration of $10.3 million in cash and issued 349,527 shares of our common stock with a fair value of $9.7 million to the former Confluence equity holders. 

In November 2018, a development milestone specified in the Confluence Agreement was achieved, as a result of which we paid the former Confluence equity holders $2.5 million in cash and issued 253,208 shares of our common stock with a fair value of $2.2 million.  Under the Confluence Agreement, we also agreed to pay the former Confluence equity holders aggregate remaining contingent consideration of up to $75.0 million based upon the achievement of specified

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regulatory and commercial milestones set forth in the Confluence Agreement.  In addition, we have agreed to pay the former Confluence equity holders future royalty payments calculated as a low single-digit percentage of annual net sales, subject to specified reductions, limitations and other adjustments, until the date that all of the patent rights for that product have expired, as determined on a country-by-country and product-by-product basis or, in specified circumstances, ten years from the first commercial sale of such product.  In addition to the payments described above, if we sell, license or transfer any of the intellectual property acquired from Confluence pursuant to the Confluence Agreement to a third party, we will be obligated to pay the former Confluence equity holders a portion of any consideration received from such sale, license or transfer in specified circumstances.  

Asset Purchase Agreement with EPI Health

In October 2019, we entered into an asset purchase agreement with EPI Health, LLC, or EPI Health, pursuant to which we sold the worldwide rights to RHOFADE (oxymetazoline hydrochloride) cream, 1%, or RHOFADE, which included the assignment of certain licenses for related intellectual property assets, or the Disposition.  

 

Pursuant to the asset purchase agreement, EPI Health paid us an upfront payment of $35.0 million, $1.75 million of which was placed in escrow, and $0.2 million for inventory.  In addition, EPI Health has agreed to pay us (i) potential sales milestone payments of up to $20.0 million in the aggregate upon the achievement of specified levels of net sales of products covered by the agreement, (ii) a specified high single-digit royalty calculated as a percentage of net sales, on a product-by-product and country-by-country basis, until the date that the patent rights related to a particular product, such as RHOFADE, have expired, provided, that with respect to sales of RHOFADE in any territory outside of the United States, such royalty shall be paid on a country-by-country basis until the date that the RHOFADE patent rights in the particular country have expired or, if later, 10 years from the date of the first commercial sale of RHOFADE in such country and (iii) 25% of any upfront, license, milestone, maintenance or fixed payment received by EPI Health in connection with any license or sublicense of the assets transferred in the Disposition in any territory outside of the United States, subject to specified exceptions.  In addition, EPI Health has agreed to assume our obligation to pay specified royalties and milestone payments under certain agreements with third parties.

Asset Purchase Agreement with Allergan

In November 2018, we acquired RHOFADE, which included an exclusive license to certain intellectual property for RHOFADE, as well as additional intellectual property, from Allergan Sales, LLC, or Allergan, pursuant to an asset purchase agreement. At the closing of the acquisition, we paid total cash consideration of $66.1 million.

Components of Our Results of Operations

Revenue

Product Sales, net

We sold RHOFADE in the United States during the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018.  We relied on Allergan to distribute RHOFADE on our behalf pursuant to the terms of a transition services agreement.  We sold RHOFADE to wholesalers in the United States, which, in turn, distributed it to pharmacies that ultimately filled patient prescriptions.  We also entered into, or were subject to, arrangements with third-party payors, including pharmacy benefit managers and government agencies, as well as group purchasing organizations, or GPOs, which provided for government mandated or privately negotiated rebates, chargebacks, and discounts with respect to the purchase of RHOFADE.  We never sold RHOFADE outside of the United States.  We sold the worldwide rights to RHOFADE to EPI Health in October 2019.  

During the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, we sold ESKATA (hydrogen peroxide) topical solution, 40% (w/w), or ESKATA, our non-marketed FDA-approved product, to one wholesaler, McKesson Specialty Care Distribution, or McKesson, which in turn resold ESKATA to health care providers.  We also entered into agreements with two GPOs that provided for administrative fees and discounted pricing in the form of volume-based rebates and chargebacks.  We never sold ESKATA outside of the United States.  We discontinued sales of ESKATA in the United States in August 2019.  

Product sales, net is presented in discontinued operations for all periods presented.

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Contract Research

We earn revenue from the provision of laboratory services to clients through Confluence, our wholly-owned subsidiary.  Contract research revenue is generally evidenced by contracts with clients which are on an agreed upon fixed-price, fee-for-service basis and are generally billed on a monthly basis in arrears for services rendered.

We have also received revenue from grants under the Small Business Innovation Research program of the National Institutes of Health, or NIH.  During the year ended December 31, 2018, we had two active grants from NIH related to early-stage research.  There are no remaining funds available to us under the grants.  

Cost of Revenue

Cost of revenue consists of the costs incurred in connection with the provision of contract research services to our clients through Confluence.  Cost of revenue primarily includes:

employee-related expenses, which include salaries, benefits and stock-based compensation;
outsourced professional scientific services;
depreciation of laboratory equipment;
facility-related costs; and
laboratory materials and supplies used to support the services provided.

Research and Development Expenses

Research and development expenses consist of expenses incurred in connection with the discovery and development of our drug candidates. These expenses primarily include:

expenses incurred under agreements with contract research organizations, or CROs, as well as clinical trial sites and consultants that conduct our clinical trials and preclinical studies, and investigator-initiated trials;
manufacturing scale-up expenses and the cost of acquiring and manufacturing active pharmaceutical ingredients and preclinical and clinical trial materials;
outsourced professional scientific development services;
medical affairs expenses related to our drug candidates;
employee-related expenses, which include salaries, benefits and stock-based compensation;
depreciation of manufacturing equipment;
payments made under agreements with third parties under which we have acquired or licensed intellectual property;
expenses relating to regulatory activities, including filing fees paid to regulatory agencies;
laboratory materials and supplies used to support our research activities; and
non-cash charges related to the revaluation of contingent consideration.

Research and development activities are central to our business model.  Drug candidates in later stages of clinical development generally have higher development costs than those in earlier stages of clinical development, primarily due to the increased size and duration of later-stage clinical trials. We expect to continue to incur research and development expenses in the near term as we continue the clinical development of ATI-450 as a potential treatment for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis and potentially other immuno-inflammatory diseases and ATI-1777 as a potential treatment for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, continue the development of our preclinical compounds, and continue to discover and develop additional drug candidates.  We expense research and development costs as incurred.  Our direct research and development expenses primarily consist of external costs including fees paid to CROs, consultants, investigator sites, regulatory agencies and third parties that manufacture our preclinical and clinical trial materials, and are tracked on a program-by-program basis.  We do not allocate personnel costs, facilities or other indirect expenses, to specific research and development programs.

The successful development of our drug candidates is highly uncertain. We cannot reasonably estimate or know the nature, timing and costs of the efforts that will be necessary to complete the remainder of the development of, or when, if ever, material net cash inflows may commence from any of our drug candidates. This uncertainty is due to the numerous

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risks and uncertainties associated with the duration and cost of clinical trials, which vary significantly over the life of a project as a result of many factors, including:

the number of clinical sites included in the trials;
the length of time required to enroll suitable subjects;
the number of subjects that ultimately participate in the trials;
the number of doses subjects receive;
the impact on the recruitment, enrollment, conduct and timing of our clinical trials due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
the duration of subject follow-up; and
the results of our clinical trials.

Our expenditures are subject to additional uncertainties, including the preparation of regulatory filings for our drug candidates, and the expense of filing, prosecuting, defending and enforcing any patent claims or other intellectual property rights.  We may obtain unexpected results from our clinical trials or other development activities.  We may elect to discontinue, delay or modify the development, including clinical trials, of some drug candidates or focus on others.  A change in the outcome of any of these variables with respect to the development of a drug candidate could mean a significant change in the costs and timing associated with the development of that drug candidate.  For example, if the FDA or other regulatory authorities were to require us to conduct clinical trials beyond those that we currently anticipate, or if we experience significant delays in enrollment in any of our clinical trials, we could be required to expend significant additional financial resources and time on the completion of clinical development.  

General and Administrative Expenses

General and administrative expenses consist principally of salaries and related costs, including stock-based compensation, for personnel in executive, administrative, finance and legal functions.  General and administrative expenses also include facility-related costs, patent filing and prosecution costs, professional fees for legal, auditing and tax services, investor relations costs, insurance costs, travel expenses, as well as a milestone payment under a third party agreement.

Other Income (Expense), net

Other income (expense), net primarily consists of interest earned on our cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities, interest expense related to our debt obligations, and gains and losses on transactions denominated in foreign currencies.

Critical Accounting Policies and Significant Judgments and Estimates

Our consolidated financial statements are prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States. The preparation of our consolidated financial statements and related disclosures requires us to make estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements, and the reported amounts of expenses during the reported period. We base our estimates on historical experience, known trends and events and various other factors that we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. We evaluate our estimates and judgments on an ongoing basis. Our actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions and conditions.  

While our significant accounting policies are described in more detail in the notes to our consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, we believe that the following accounting policies are those most critical to the judgments and estimates used in the preparation of our consolidated financial statements.  

Revenue Recognition

We account for revenue in accordance with Accounting Standards Codification, or ASC, Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers.  Under ASC Topic 606, revenue is recognized when a customer obtains control of promised goods or services in an amount that reflects the consideration to which we expect to be entitled in exchange for

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those goods or services.  

To determine revenue recognition in accordance with ASC Topic 606, we perform the following five steps: (i) identify the contract(s) with a customer, (ii) identify the performance obligations in the contract, (iii) determine the transaction price, (iv) allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract, and (v) recognize revenue when (or as) performance obligations are satisfied.  We recognize revenue when collection of the consideration we are entitled to under a contract with a customer is probable.  At contract inception, we assess the goods or services promised within a contract with a customer to identify the performance obligations, and to determine if they are distinct.  We recognize revenue that is allocated to each distinct performance obligation when (or as) that performance obligation is satisfied.  We only recognize revenue when collection of the consideration we are entitled to under a contract with a customer is probable.

Product Sales, net

We recognized revenue from product sales at the point the customer obtained control, which generally occurred upon delivery.  We also included estimates of variable consideration in the same period revenue was recognized.  Components of variable consideration included trade discounts and allowances, product returns, government rebates, discounts and rebates, other incentives such as patient co-pay assistance, and other fee for service amounts.  Variable consideration was recorded on the consolidated balance sheet as either a reduction of accounts receivable, if payable to a customer, or as a current liability, if payable to a third-party other than a customer.  We considered all relevant information when estimating variable consideration such as contractual and statutory requirements, specific known market events and trends, industry data and forecasted customer buying and payment patterns.  The amount of net revenue that can be recognized is constrained by estimates of variable consideration which are included in the transaction price.  Payment terms with customers did not exceed one year and, therefore, we did not account for a financing component in our arrangements.  We expensed incremental costs of obtaining a contract with a customer, including sales commissions, when incurred as the period of benefit was less than one year.

Trade Discounts and Allowances - We provided customers with trade discounts, rebates, allowances and/or other incentives.  We recorded estimates for these items as a reduction of revenue in the same period the revenue was recognized.  

Government and Payor Rebates – We contracted with, or were subject to arrangements with, certain third-party payors, including pharmacy benefit managers and government agencies, for the payment of rebates with respect to utilization of our commercial products.  We also entered into agreements with GPOs that provided for administrative fees and discounted pricing in the form of volume-based rebates.  We were also subject to discount and rebate obligations under state Medicaid programs and Medicare.  We recorded estimates for these discounts and rebates as a reduction of revenue in the same period the revenue was recognized.  

Other Incentives – We maintained a co-pay assistance program which was intended to provide financial assistance to qualified commercially-insured patients with prescription drug co-payments required by third-party payors.  We estimated and recorded accruals for these incentives as a reduction of revenue in the period the revenue was recognized.   Our estimated amounts for co-pay assistance were based upon the number of claims and the cost per claim that we expected to receive associated with product that had been sold to customers but remained in the distribution channel at the end of each reporting period.  

Product Returns - Consistent with industry practice, we have a product returns policy for RHOFADE which may provide customers a right of return for product purchased within a specified period prior to and subsequent to the product’s expiration date.  The right of return lapses upon shipment of the product to a patient.  We recorded an estimate for the amount of product which may be returned as a reduction of revenue in the period the related revenue was recognized.  Our estimates for product returns were based upon available industry data and our own sales information, including visibility into the inventory remaining in the distribution channel.  There is no return liability associated with sales of ESKATA as we had a no returns policy for ESKATA.

Product sales, net is presented in discontinued operations for all periods presented.

Contract Research

Revenue related to laboratory services is generally recognized as the laboratory services are performed, based

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upon the rates specified in the contracts.  Under ASC Topic 606, we elected to apply the “right to invoice” practical expedient when recognizing contract research revenue and as such, recognize revenue in the amount which we have the right to invoice.  ASC Topic 606 also provides an optional exemption, which we have elected to apply, from disclosing remaining performance obligations when revenue is recognized from the satisfaction of the performance obligation in accordance with the “right to invoice” practical expedient.  

We recognize revenue related to grants as amounts become reimbursable under each grant, which is generally when research is performed, and the related costs are incurred.  

Other Revenue

Licenses of Intellectual Property – We recognize revenue received from non-refundable, upfront fees related to the licensing of intellectual property when the intellectual property is determined to be distinct from the other performance obligations identified in the arrangement, the license has been transferred to the customer, and the customer is able to use and benefit from the license.

Milestone Payments – At the inception of each arrangement that includes milestone payments, we evaluate whether the milestones are considered probable of being reached and estimate the amount to be included in the transaction price using the most likely amount method.  If it is probable that a significant revenue reversal would not occur, the associated milestone value is included in the amount allocated to the license of intellectual property.  Milestone payments that are not within our control or the control of the customer, such as regulatory approvals, are not considered probable of being achieved until those approvals are received.

Intangible Assets

Our intangible assets include both definite-lived and indefinite-lived assets.  Our definite-lived intangible assets consist of a drug discovery platform acquired through the acquisition of Confluence, and prior to the disposition in 2019, also included the intellectual property rights related to RHOFADE.  Definite-lived intangible assets are amortized over their estimated useful life based on the pattern over which the intangible assets are consumed or otherwise used up.  If that pattern cannot be reliably determined, the straight-line method of amortization is used.  Our indefinite-lived intangible assets consist of an in-process research and development, or IPR&D, drug candidate also acquired through the acquisition of Confluence.  IPR&D assets are considered indefinite-lived until the completion or abandonment of the associated research and development efforts.  The cost of IPR&D assets is either amortized over their estimated useful life beginning when the underlying drug candidate is approved and launched commercially, or expensed immediately if development of the drug candidate is abandoned.  

Definite-lived intangible assets are tested for impairment when events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value of the asset may not be recoverable.  Indefinite-lived intangible assets are tested for impairment at least annually, which we perform during the fourth quarter, or when indicators of an impairment are present.  We recognize an impairment loss when and to the extent that the estimated fair value of an intangible asset is less than its carrying value.  

During the year ended December 31, 2019, we performed an impairment analysis of the RHOFADE intangible asset due to our decision to discontinue commercial operations and actively seek a commercialization partner for RHOFADE.  Our impairment analysis, which primarily utilized a third-party indication of fair value, resulted in a fair value for the RHOFADE intangible asset which was less than its carrying value.  As a result, we recorded an impairment charge of $27.6 million to adjust the carrying value of the RHOFADE intangible asset to its net realizable value.  

Goodwill

Goodwill is not amortized, but rather is subject to testing for impairment at least annually, which we perform either during the fourth quarter or when indicators of an impairment are present.  We consider each of our operating segments, therapeutics and contract research, to be a reporting unit since this is the lowest level for which discrete financial information is available.  The impairment test is a qualitative assessment based upon the then current facts and circumstances related to operations of the reporting unit.  If our qualitative assessment indicates an impairment may be present, we would perform the required quantitative analysis and an impairment charge would be recognized to the extent that the estimated fair value of the reporting unit is less than its carrying amount.  However, any loss recognized would not exceed the total amount of goodwill allocated to that reporting unit.  

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During the year ended December 31, 2019, we performed an impairment analysis due to a decline in our stock price, which was considered a triggering event to evaluate goodwill for impairment.  Our impairment analysis, which utilized a market approach, noted that our stock price, including a reasonable control premium, resulted in a fair value for the therapeutics reporting unit which was less than its carrying value.  As a result, we recorded an impairment charge of $18.5 million.  

Leases

Leases represent a company’s right to use an underlying asset and a corresponding obligation to make payments to a lessor for the right to use those assets.  We evaluate leases at their inception to determine if they are an operating lease or a finance lease.  A lease is accounted for as a finance lease if it meets one of the following five criteria: the lease has a purchase option that is reasonably certain of being exercised, the present value of the future cash flows are substantially all of the fair market value of the underlying asset, the lease term is for a significant portion of the remaining economic life of the underlying asset, the title to the underlying asset transfers at the end of the lease term, or if the underlying asset is of such a specialized nature that it is expected to have no alternative uses to the lessor at the end of the term.  Leases that do not meet the finance lease criteria are accounted for as an operating lease.  

We recognize assets and liabilities for leases at their inception based upon the present value of all payments due under the lease.  We use an implicit interest rate to determine the present value of finance leases, and our incremental borrowing rate to determine the present value of operating leases.  We determine incremental borrowing rates by referencing collateralized borrowing rates for debt instruments with terms similar to the respective lease.  We recognize expense for operating and finance leases on a straight-line basis over the term of each lease, and interest expense related to finance leases is recognized over the lease term based on the effective interest method.  We include estimates for any residual value guarantee obligations under our leases in lease liabilities recorded on our consolidated balance sheet.  

Right-of-use assets are included in other assets and property and equipment, net on our consolidated balance sheet for operating and finance leases, respectively.  Obligations for lease payments are included in current portion of lease liabilities and other liabilities on our consolidated balance sheet for both operating and finance leases.  

Contingent Consideration

We initially recorded a contingent consideration liability related to future potential payments resulting from the acquisition of Confluence based upon the achievement of certain development, regulatory and commercial milestones, as well as future projected sales performance, at its estimated fair value on the date of acquisition.  The ultimate amount of future payments, if any, is based on criteria such as sales performance and the achievement of certain regulatory and sales milestones.  We estimate the fair value of the contingent consideration liability related to the achievement of regulatory milestones by assigning an achievement probability to each potential milestone and discounting the associated cash payment to its present value using a credit-risk-adjusted interest rate.  We estimate the fair value of the contingent consideration liability associated with sales milestones and royalties by estimating future sales levels, assigning an achievement probability and discounting the associated cash payment amounts to their present values using a risk-adjusted rate of return.  Significant assumptions used in our estimates include the probability of success of both achieving regulatory milestones and commencing commercialization, which are based upon an asset’s current stage of development and ranged between 4% and 15%.  We evaluate fair value estimates of contingent consideration liabilities on a quarterly basis.  Any change in fair value reflects new information about the likelihood of the payment of the contingent consideration and the passage of time. For example, if the timing of the development of an acquired drug candidate, or the size of potential commercial opportunities related to an acquired drug candidate, differ from our assumptions, then the fair value of contingent consideration would be adjusted accordingly. Future changes in the fair value of the contingent consideration, if any, will be recorded as income or expense in our consolidated statement of operations.  

During the year ended December 31, 2020, we updated our assumptions for contingent consideration related to the acquisition of Confluence as a result of the successful completion of a Phase 1 clinical trial for ATI-450 and the submission and allowance of an IND for ATI-1777, which resulted in a charge of $2.4 million.  During the year ended December 31, 2019, we updated our assumptions for contingent consideration related to the acquisition of Confluence as a result of the submission and allowance of an IND for ATI-450, which resulted in a charge of $0.7 million.

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Research and Development Expenses

As part of the process of preparing our consolidated financial statements, we are required to estimate our research and development expenses.  This process involves reviewing open contracts and purchase orders, communicating with our applicable personnel to identify services that have been performed on our behalf and estimating the level of service performed and the associated cost incurred for the service when we have not yet been invoiced or otherwise notified of actual costs. The majority of our preclinical development activities and clinical trials are performed pursuant to quotes and contracts with multiple vendors, including research institutions and CROs, that conduct and manage such activities on our behalf.  Many of the contracts with our vendors require advance payments; while others invoice us in arrears for services performed, or on a pre-determined schedule, or upon the successful enrollment of subjects, or when contractual milestones are met.  We record expenses for preclinical development activities and clinical trials based upon estimates of the total cost of the services to be provided by the vendor and the time period over which the vendor is to perform those services.  Estimates of research and development expenses included in our consolidated financial statements are based on facts and circumstances known to us at that time. The financial terms of our agreements are subject to negotiation, vary from contract to contract, and may result in uneven payment flows.  There may be times when payments made to a vendor exceed the level of services provided, resulting in a prepayment for work to be performed.  We may confirm the accuracy of our estimates with the service providers, or make adjustments to our estimates based upon new or updated facts and circumstances, as necessary.  For example, if the timing and/or cost of services to be performed is materially different from our previous estimates, we would make a prospective adjustment for the change in our estimates in the period in which we become aware of the new cost and/or timing. Although we do not expect our estimates to be materially different from actual amounts incurred, our understanding of the status and timing of services performed relative to the actual status and timing of services performed may vary and may result in reporting amounts that are too high or too low in any particular period.  To date, we have not made any material adjustments to our estimates of research and development expenses.  

Stock-Based Compensation

We measure the compensation expense of stock-based awards granted to employees and directors using the grant date fair value of the award.  We have issued stock options and restricted stock unit, or RSU, awards with service-based vesting conditions, as well as with performance-based vesting conditions.  We have not issued awards that include market-based conditions.  For service-based awards, we recognize stock-based compensation expense on a straight-line basis over the requisite service period.  For performance-based awards, we recognize stock-based compensation expense on a straight-line basis over the requisite service period beginning in the period that it becomes probable the performance conditions will occur.  At each balance sheet date, we evaluate whether any performance conditions related to a performance-based award have changed.  The effect of any change in performance conditions would be recognized as a cumulative catch-up adjustment in the period such change occurs, and any remaining unrecognized compensation expense would be recognized on a straight-line basis over the remaining requisite service period.  The impact of forfeitures is recognized in the period in which they occur.  

We measure the compensation expense of stock-based awards granted to consultants using the grant date fair value of the award.  We recognize compensation expense over the period during which services are rendered by the consultant.

We estimate the fair value of each stock option grant using the Black-Scholes option-pricing model.  We estimate expected volatility based on historical volatility of a set of peer companies, which are publicly traded, and we expect to continue to do so until we have adequate historical data regarding the volatility of our own publicly-traded stock price.  The expected term of our stock options has been determined using the “simplified” method for awards that qualify as “plain vanilla” options. The expected term of stock options we granted to non-employees is equal to the contractual term of the option award.  The risk-free interest rate is determined by reference to the U.S. Treasury yield curve in effect at the time of grant of the award for time periods approximately equal to the expected term of the award.  We use an expected dividend yield of zero because we have not paid cash dividends to date, and have no intention of paying cash dividends in the future.

The fair value of each RSU is measured using the closing price of our common stock on the date of grant.

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Income Taxes

Since our inception, we have not recorded U.S. federal or state income tax benefits for the net operating losses we have incurred in each year or for our earned research and development tax credits, due to our uncertainty of realizing a benefit from those items.

Results of Operations

Comparison of Years Ended December 31, 2020 and 2019

Year Ended December 31, 

 

(In thousands)

    

2020

    

2019

    

Change

 

Revenues:

Contract research

$

5,786

$

4,227

$

1,559

Other revenue

696

696

Total revenue

6,482

4,227

2,255

Costs and expenses:

Cost of revenue

5,133

4,055

1,078

Research and development

 

31,731

 

64,899

 

(33,168)

General and administrative

 

20,530

 

27,827

 

(7,297)

Goodwill impairment

18,504

(18,504)

Total costs and expenses

 

57,394

 

115,285

 

(57,891)

Loss from operations

 

(50,912)

 

(111,058)

 

60,146

Other expense, net

 

(424)

 

(2,484)

 

2,060

Loss from continuing operations before income taxes

(51,336)

(113,542)

62,206

Income tax benefit

(182)

(182)

Loss from continuing operations

(51,154)

(113,542)

62,388

Income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of tax

139

(47,812)

47,951

Net loss

$

(51,015)

$

(161,354)

$

110,339

Revenue

Contract research revenue was $5.8 million and $4.2 million for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively, and was comprised primarily of fees earned from the provision of laboratory services to our clients through Confluence.  Other revenue for the year ended December 31, 2020 consisted of $0.7 million of royalties earned on net sales of RHOFADE pursuant to the asset purchase agreement with EPI Health.

Cost of Revenue

Cost of revenue was $5.1 million and $4.1 million for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively, and related to providing laboratory services to our clients through Confluence.  The increase in cost of revenue was driven primarily by increased personnel and lab supply costs as well as an increase in overhead expenses.

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Research and Development Expenses

The following table summarizes our research and development expenses:

Year Ended

December 31, 

(In thousands)

2020

    

2019

Change

ATI-450

    

$

8,268

    

$

7,839

  

$

429

ATI-1777

3,993

3,612

381

ATI-2138

2,412

1,771

641

Other JAK inhibitors

265

11,102

(10,837)

A-101 45% Topical Solution

611

13,309

(12,698)

Discovery

 

2,141

 

4,152

 

(2,011)

Other research and development

1,564

2,177

(613)

Personnel

7,165

9,612

(2,447)

Stock-based compensation

2,919

5,091

(2,172)

Milestones and licensing

5,500

(5,500)

Contingent consideration

2,393

734

1,659

Total research and development expenses

$

31,731

$

64,899

$

(33,168)

ATI-450

Research and development expenses for ATI-450 during the year ended December 31, 2020 primarily consisted of costs associated with multiple clinical trials, including a Phase 2a trial in subjects with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.  ATI-450 expenses during the year ended December 31, 2019 primarily consisted of preclinical development activities and activities related to a Phase 1 clinical trial that was completed in January 2020.  ATI-450 expenses increased during the year ended December 31, 2020 due to an increase in costs associated with various ongoing clinical trials, partially offset by lower preclinical development activities.  

ATI-1777

Expenses for ATI-1777 were higher during the year ended December 31, 2020 primarily due to costs associated with a Phase 2a clinical trial in subjects with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis which commenced in 2020, partially offset by lower preclinical development activities.

ATI-2138

Expenses for ATI-2138 were higher during the year ended December 31, 2020 primarily due to preclinical development activities and IND-enabling studies.  

Other JAK inhibitors

The decrease in expenses related to other JAK inhibitors primarily resulted from lower expenses in the year ended December 31, 2020 following the completion of multiple Phase 2 clinical trials of our legacy JAK inhibitors, ATI-501 and ATI-502, in 2019.

A-101 45% Topical Solution

Expenses related to A-101 45% Topical Solution decreased primarily due to lower expenses in the year ended December 31, 2020 following the completion of our Phase 3 clinical trials in 2019.

Discovery and other research and development

Research and development expenses related to discovery decreased during the year ended December 31, 2020 as our discovery-stage assets matured to clinical-stage assets.  As a result of this transition, we focused fewer resources on our discovery-stage assets in 2020 compared to 2019.  Other research and development expenses, which primarily included expenses for medical affairs activities, were lower primarily due to a decrease in activities for our A-101 45% Topical

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Solution, ATI-501 and ATI-502 clinical trials that were completed in 2019.  Additionally, travel expenses were lower during the year ended December 31, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Personnel and stock-based compensation

Personnel expenses and stock-based compensation decreased due to lower headcount primarily resulting from the restructuring announced in September 2019.  

Milestones and licensing and contingent consideration

In 2019, we recorded $5.5 million of expenses for payments under a license agreement upon the achievement of a development milestone and a fee related to a contract amendment.  The change in contingent consideration during the year ended December 31, 2020 was the result of updates to our assumptions as a result of the completion of a successful Phase 1 clinical trial for ATI-450 and the submission and allowance of an IND for ATI-1777, while the change in contingent consideration during the year ended December 31, 2019 was the result of updates to our assumptions as a result of the submission and allowance of an IND for ATI-450.  

General and Administrative Expenses

The following table summarizes our general and administrative expenses:

Year Ended

December 31, 

(In thousands)

2020

    

2019

Change

Personnel

    

$

5,671

    

$

8,342

  

$

(2,671)

Professional and legal fees

3,671

3,995

(324)

Facility and support services

 

1,743

 

2,574

 

(831)

Other general and administrative

2,103

2,628

(525)

Stock-based compensation

7,342

10,288

(2,946)

Total general and administrative expenses

$

20,530

$

27,827

$

(7,297)

Personnel and stock-based compensation expenses decreased due to lower headcount primarily resulting from the restructuring announced in September 2019.  Professional and legal fees included accounting, legal, investor relations and corporate communication costs, as well as legal fees related to patents and current lawsuits described in this report.  Professional and legal fees were lower year-over-year primarily due to lower corporate legal fees.  Facility and support services included general office expenses, information technology costs and other expenses, and decreased primarily due to lower operational and other overhead costs.  Other general and administrative expenses was lower primarily due to reduced travel-related activities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Goodwill Impairment

 

During the year ended December 31, 2019, we performed an impairment analysis due to a decline in our stock price.  Our impairment analysis noted that the fair value for the therapeutics reporting unit was less than its carrying value.  As a result, we recorded an impairment charge of $18.5 million. 

Other Expense, net

The $2.1 million decrease in other expense, net was primarily due to lower interest expense and fees associated with outstanding debt balances.

Loss from Discontinued Operations

The decrease in loss from discontinued operations was due to the divestiture of RHOFADE (see Note 3 to the consolidated financial statements included in this report for additional information).  We recorded income from discontinued operations of $0.1 million during the year ended December 31, 2020 which consisted of $0.4 million of RHOFADE product sales due to a reversal of previously accrued product sales-related reserves, partially offset by $0.3 million of expenses.

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Comparison of Years Ended December 31, 2019 and 2018

Year Ended December 31, 

 

(In thousands)

    

2019

    

2018

    

Change

 

Revenues:

Contract research

$

4,227

$

4,651

$

(424)

Other revenue

1,500

(1,500)

Total revenue

4,227

6,151

(1,924)

Costs and expenses:

Cost of revenue

4,055

4,329

(274)

Research and development

 

64,899

60,841

 

4,058

General and administrative

 

27,827

25,761

 

2,066

Goodwill impairment

18,504

18,504

Total costs and expenses

 

115,285

 

90,931

 

24,354

Loss from operations

 

(111,058)

 

(84,780)

 

(26,278)

Other income (expense), net

 

(2,484)

2,676

 

(5,160)

Loss from continuing operations before income taxes

(113,542)

(82,104)

(31,438)

Income tax benefit

Loss from continuing operations

(113,542)

(82,104)

(31,438)

Loss from discontinued operations, net of tax

(47,812)

(50,634)

2,822

Net loss

$

(161,354)

$

(132,738)

$

(28,616)

Revenue

Contract research revenue was $4.2 million and $4.7 million for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively, and was comprised primarily of fees earned from the provision of laboratory services to our clients through Confluence.  Other revenue for the year ended December 31, 2018 related to payments associated with a license agreement and consisted of an upfront payment of $1.0 million and $0.5 million earned upon the achievement of a specified regulatory milestone.

Cost of Revenue

Cost of revenue was $4.1 million and $4.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively, and related to providing laboratory services to our clients through Confluence.

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Research and Development Expenses

The following table summarizes our research and development expenses:

Year Ended

December 31, 

(In thousands)

2019

    

2018

Change

ATI-450

    

$

7,839

    

$

4,068

  

$

3,771

ATI-1777

3,612

8

3,604

ATI-2138

1,771

1,771

Other JAK inhibitors

11,102

22,449

(11,347)

A-101 45% Topical Solution

13,309

10,114

3,195

Discovery

4,152

4,082

70

Other research and development

2,177

4,035

(1,858)

Personnel

9,612

8,332

1,280

Stock-based compensation

5,091

6,481

(1,390)

Milestones and licensing

5,500

5,500

Contingent consideration

734

1,272

(538)

Total research and development expenses

$

64,899

$

60,841

$

4,058

ATI-450

The increase in expenses for ATI-450 resulted primarily from preclinical development activities as well as a Phase 1 clinical trial, which was initiated and near completion during the year ended December 31, 2019.

ATI-1777

Expenses related to ATI-1777 increased during the year ended December 31, 2019 due to higher preclinical activities and IND-enabling preclinical studies.

ATI-2138

Expenses for ATI-2138 were higher during the year ended December 31, 2019 primarily due to preclinical development activities.  

Other JAK inhibitors

Development expenses related to other JAK inhibitors decreased primarily due to lower expenses in the year ended December 31, 2019 following the completion of multiple Phase 2 clinical trials of ATI-501 and ATI-502 in 2019.

A-101 45% Topical Solution

Expenses related to A-101 45% Topical Solution increased primarily due to higher expenses associated with our two pivotal Phase 3 clinical trials, which were initiated during 2018 and were completed in 2019.

Discovery and other research and development

Discovery expenses were consistent year-over-year and reflected our efforts to progress various programs to candidate selection and clinical-stage.  The decrease in other research and development expenses was primarily due to lower costs related to legacy dermatology assets and lower travel expenses.

Personnel and stock-based compensation

The increase in personnel expenses, which includes restructuring expenses, was primarily the result of increased headcount prior to our restructuring in 2019.  Restructuring expenses primarily included the cost of termination benefits

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given to employees that were involuntarily terminated during the year ended December 31, 2019.  The decrease in stock-based compensation expense was primarily the result of forfeitures by certain employees during 2019.

Milestones and licensing and contingent consideration